Domestic violence is something that is very prominent in today’s age, a lot of women and men go through this. Women that battle with abuse while pregnant, risk the chance of health issues with the child. Children can be greatly affected by this, it can affect their mental state, how they see themselves and how they act in the future.
All children are different when it comes to their development, but putting them in a situation like domestic violence can slow down that process and make it harder for them to succeed. Children that witness abuse in their younger years, do not always suffer in their adult years, sometimes they succeed and come back from seeing all the traumatic things.
I have chosen domestic violence and the effect it has on children because my mom has gone through an abusive relationship and I can vividly remember how awful it was for everyone, including myself and my brother. I was old enough to know what was happening but not old enough to know what to do to stop it from happening. I don’t trust anyone because of that situation, and I am always looking at babies more closely to make sure they are okay and I’m always watching everyone around me when I go out.
I also really enjoy reading about this kind of topic, because it opens my eyes to how the world can really be and how I want to raise my children one day. Seeing and hearing things was scary for me, and now when I hear yelling of any kind it triggers that kind of feeling again and I freak out. I have learned how to control the feelings of fear over the years but it’s always there. This topic hits a little close to home, so I wanted to look more into it and really see what kind of effects domestic violence could have on children and if it changes them in any way.
I want to learn more and find out if there are any warning signs in children to look out for that something is going on at home. Abuse is something that can be stopped and a lot of women are scared to speak out about, so maybe learning any signs in their children can help them in some way. Helping people is something I enjoy doing and I feel like if I learn more about this subject it can help me prevent my friends from going through anything or myself go through it. About 40 million adults grew up in homes with domestic violence, about 5 million children witness abuse every single year.
Children who have gone through domestic violence have shown signs of having PTSD, and the effects the abuse has on their brain is similar to the effects of experienced combat veterans. Children who live with abuse are more neglected than the average child. A child that goes through or witnessed domestic violence is more than likely going to repeat the cycle in adulthood, and do the same to their significant other or child.
Domestic violence is also directly correlated to learning challenges, lower IQ and memory, and attention problems. Living in a domestic violence setting, or witnessing it can harshly change the DNA of a child, meaning that the can prematurely age 7-10 years. This kind of change and experience can cause the child to do drugs, kids who witness abuse are 50% more likely to do drugs than the average person, and 6 times more likely to hurt themselves.
Children can be exposed to domestic violence in many different ways, they can see their mom being threatened, demeaned, or battered in any way and that can be scary for a kid. The child can overhear the screaming or yelling from another room, can get hurt on accident, the abuser can intend to do it or because the child is trying to intervene in the situation to protect the other parent. Some children are even used or manipulated into hurting the battered parent.
Children often can suffer from seeing the aftermath of beatings, like their mother having bruise marks on her, or they can be neglected from the domestic violence that happens in the household. Most households that are accompanied by domestic violence are filled with tension and fear for the child because they do not know what will happen next or if they are going to be okay. Scientist are researching the effects of witnessing abuse to going through abuse, and have found that witnessing it can be just as harmful as going through the trauma.
They have done imaging on infants brains which have shown that seeing domestic violence, even during sleep or in a moms belly, can change the structure of a babies brain and affect the way the circuits work together. Studies have shown that infants born into a home that has domestic violence are more likely to have inflammation in their bodies than to babies who were born into homes without it. Babies who witness domestic abuse are often more suitable to have PTSD. Mothers who go through abuse while pregnant, there’s a possibility that the baby could be injured or the baby could be delivered to soon.
A child who is born prematurely can have many, many health issues, because they didn’t get all the nutrients they needed to build their lungs, and other organs to last outside of the womb. A mom in Georgia claims that the abusive relationship she had been in for 5-6 years was the cause of her twin children’s health issues. She was on bed rest because of bleeding from so much stress for most of her pregnancy.
The babies were born with floppy baby syndrome, a muscular condition. Both children struggle with speech issues and have spent months in instructional therapy to work on following directions. The father of the twins was charged with assault and battery against the mother. Babies that witness domestic violence are more likely to have health, behavior problems. Babies will tend to be more anxiety filled when separating from their mother, or father and they can also be fussy and cry more often than most babies.
Babies and toddlers could also have effects on seeing abuse by having constant nightmares, or not eating/sleeping as much as they need to be. These are more short term effects, the longer term effects can be trouble in school, or not being on the same level of motor skills, social skills, and speech skills as everyone else. These children can also be very high in energy levels, or have none at all and be very tired a lot.
Growing up in an environment where someone is being abused, a child might begin to think that violence is the answer to things. So a child that grows up with abuse may become violent when things happen and think that it’s okay and that it’s helping. They might think that showing aggression and anger is a way to show that you care or show someone attention. This action can have a negative effect on a child’s life they begin to grow up and be apart of classroom settings.
They might also believe that violence is a way of getting what you want from someone and that the anger is justifiable. The child will see that it’s okay to blame your actions on someone else, and put problems on other people, so that’s what they will do. Children learn by watching. Children who aren’t born into abusive relationships, but become part of one may suffer from picking up bad habits from their younger ages. They can become fearful and always be on guard for what’s going to happen next.
A child that may once have wet the bed, but stopped, may start again out of fear and anxiety. As kids start to get older they tend to want to blame themselves for the things happening to their parents, so they will rebel by doing drugs or having unprotected sex. They may begin to bully other kids, or pick fights and get in trouble with principles or even the law. Which can result in grades dropping and flunking classes, and not being able to participate in school activities.
They might start trying to cope in unhealthy ways, or start shutting everyone in their life out because they are scared. As babies become teens they will start to develop depression and anxiety from seeing all the abuse. They may also develop health issues such as diabetes, obesity, heart problems, ect. A child might have a lower self-esteem, because they start to blame themselves for everything that goes on and happens.
Teens who witness abuse, or who grew up seeing it, are ten times more likely to get into an abusive relationship themselves. A young boy who grows up seeing so much abuse, will, in turn, abuse his future girlfriends, because that is what he knows. Boys will see that women do not have to be treated well in the house and that they will do whatever you want them to do if you are mean to them, so they will want to do that so they do not have to do work.
Valeria Marcus did an interview with The Press of Atlantic city about her experience growing up in a home with domestic abuse. Children can feel so isolated and manipulated in a situation like this because they don’t know whether it’s happening elsewhere or if it’s just them. Marcus said when she was young she hid her emotional scars and physical scars from the abuse she was facing, she said she ‘made it her job to stay home and stay loyal to her parents even her father’, who was the abuser.
‘Children are used as pawns too’ ‘they are used to make the victim feel bad for about leaving, and sometimes an abuser will encourage the children to participate in the abuse of the victim parent,’ says Megan Murphy. Valeria said, ‘at home it was terrible, I didn’t really want him to die, but I just wanted him to go away.’ She also claimed she had wished to never met him, because of how terrible her father treated her mother.
Megan Murphy is a coordinator for the Coalition Against Rape and Abuse in Cape May Court House, she said: ‘the nonphysical elements of domestic violence, such as emotional or financial controlling, can prevent a spouse or partner from leaving, with the children, the abuser.’ An abusive relationship becomes more complicated with a child involved, the mother has to think of the child, if the abuser threatens the child. Marcus says ‘you can never get over it. You heal, but the memories stay, you never forget it until the day you die.
It haunts you.’ Children who grow up watching abusers, can grow up and become successful adults and it can have non very damaging effects on them if they get it intervened early. Marcus, who is now 63 years old, says she uses her experience with witnessing domestic violence to help others in need, who have experienced abuse. Marcus struggled when she was younger, with depression, sleep disorders, anxiety and trust issues from the trauma.
Boys and girls may react differently to their feelings and their stress levels from witnessing domestic violence. Boys, for example, may act out in rage, like hitting their younger siblings or fighting at school. They may also start using drugs more, or join a gang/club. Girls might act out by becoming sexually promiscuous and abuse their male partners. Or they may start using drugs as well, as a way to calm down. While other girls might become depressed and hurt themselves.
Men who grow up watching domestic violence, and see it most of their lives are twice as likely to become violent with their partners in the future and are at more risk of abusing their children. Abuse is a learned behavior, it happens over time, most bullies are the victims at first. For the men, it may become that they see the abuser and think that, that it what masculinity is supposed to be like. So they will strive to be like that because they will want to be like their fathers.
The same with girls, they grow up wanting to be like their moms but their moms are victims of abuse so they grow up thinking they shouldn’t be treated like that. Children who witness abuse are not only likely to do the act themselves in future relationships, but they are also more likely to become the victim in a future relationship. They will go for people who acted as the people they grew up around, then putting them self in the same position they use to be in.
The chance of co-occurrence happening, where an abuser is hurting the child and partner at the same time again, is up to 60% according to Safe Horizon. Children who grow up thinking that the anger from the abuser is good attention, they will carry that with them throughout life and throughout their relationships. Parents that go through this abuse and keep their children around it, might actually think that it’s what best for the child.
The parent wants their kid to grow up with a mom and a dad in the same home, not just one or the other. At some point, when it becomes harming to the child, the victim might realize what is actually happening and get out of the situation. ‘That can be a breaking point for many survivors where they say it’s one thing for me to go through this, but I’m not going to put my kid through this,’ says Robert CNN. Research shows that 90% of children in domestic violence households, know what is going on.
They see and hear what is going on, and the child will stress out and worry for their parent. ‘Children have one shot at childhood,’ said Esposito CN, most parents have a breaking point for their children. Teenagers that witness domestic violence may have the most behavioral changes because they understand most. They may want to talk about the event all the time, or act like it never even happened.
They will act out more than normal teens. Teenagers that witness abuse may sleep all day long and still complain that they are tired all the time, or they will not sleep much at all. Teens are more likely to develop mental health problems, the internal problems that no one can see, but the teens can feel. The domestic violence can cause a type of stress that be somewhat toxic to the brain, that then causes all these problems, the acts of rage and the mental health issues.
The effects of abuse can come in many different forms, depending on age, or the way the witnessed the abuse. Some children might believe that it is their fault that all happened, some kids might actually turn against their parents and hate them because of what they saw. They might feel alone and like no one would understand, so they don’t talk to anyone about the abuse that happens and express how they feel about the situation.
Children might start to hate themselves, and have negative thoughts about who they are and how they feel about other people. The effects can change a child for the worse sometimes, and make the child feel like the world is against them and they will believe that no one will help them and no one really understands what they are going through. As children enter adulthood and carry the trauma with them, they can go one of two ways.
They can succeed and make a good life for themselves or they might fall and crumble from being so traumatized as a child that they don’t know how. They can become homeless, jobless, go into extreme poverty and be very depressed. Into adulthood, they will have many of the same mental health problems they had as a teenager but they may, in fact, get worse. Some children may grow up and use that trauma and help other people that have gone through that, and help them get out of bad situations.
They will grow up and get jobs and get married and have children and create a very different life for themselves than what they grew up with. In conclusion, domestic violence can affect a child in many different ways. They can be born into bad homes, with health issues that get worse over time. A child that witnesses abuse will act out, because they usually do not get a lot of attention at home, and they won’t develop as quickly as everyone else around them. But some children may grow up and get passed these events from their childhood and change the pattern.