Domestic violence could be regarded as any physical, emotional or sexual abuse which is inflicted on either a woman or man by their ex-partners or by their partner. . According to Baker et al (2002) domestic violence is any assault or abuse directed against adults or adolescents by those who could be regarded as intimate partners. Domestic violence is a very serious problem because it affects the whole population in one way or the other. Though mostly is targeted at the marriage partner, children are also on the receiving end as they witness every bit of it.
The word that is mostly used to refer to domestic violence is battering and it means severe abuse or abuse that occurs regularly. It is said that children who witness domestic violence, chances are that they also become direct victims of abuse, they become traumatic, psychologically affected and their developmental track is affected. This research paper will mainly focus on how domestic violence impacts on children and their development. It will conduct an intensive and extensive research to establish the underlying factors that leads to domestic violence.
The paper will provide statistics to support the fact that it affects children’s growth. Domestic violence affects all people irrespective of their social economic status, age, religious group, political affiliations or occupation but mostly it affects those who are in an intimate relationship. It includes many forms and some of these are sexual abuse, physical, emotional, psychological and economical abuse. Basically it uses the above mentioned methods in order to frighten, to intimidate or to humiliate the other partner so as to have power and control over them.
In most cases it is the women who are affected it is compared to the male partners. In relationships which are characterized by domestic violence, children are witness to three quarters of these incidents and according to a survey that was done; about half of them have either been beaten or badly hit. According to Newton (2001), it is estimated that 3. 3 million children or more are victims of domestic violence either verbal or physical in each year. They have been in one way or the other exposed to it and here the term exposure means hearing, seeing or bearing the impacts of this abuse.
In most cases domestic violence and child abuse occur in the same family and as per Newton’s report, “in homes where domestic violence occurs, children are physically abused and neglected at a rate of 15 times higher than the national average. ” As per other surveys that have been done, they show that in about 60% to 70% percent families where domestic violence happens, children also fall victims and are most likely to be sexually abused. (Department of Community Services. 2002) The effects of violence exposure to children vary from one child to another.
Most children who are victims of this violence tend to mature faster than those that are not exposed to it. In America according to Jackson (127), about ten to twenty percent of all children become witness of domestic violence. Exposure to this kind of violence to children is sometimes regarded as child abuse or neglect but it is said that the two overlaps. Children who have been exposed to violence and at the same time been abused researches show that they tend to be more traumatic than those that have been victims of only one of these. The former portray strange behaviors for example being aggressive than the latter.
(Jackson 128). Domestic violence has serious negative implications on children. 72 percent of all the battered mothers who were consulted in a study that was done by Evanson in 1982 shown that their children suffered from emotional problems because they had witnessed it (McGee 69) Normal children development is only possible in an environment that is not characterized by violence and therefore those that are victims of domestic violence, their growth and development is affected, “where the environment is infected by violence and fear, all the normal tasks of growing up are likely to be adversely affected.
For example, exposure to violence can result to regressive symptoms such as increased bedwetting, delayed language development and more anxiety over separation from parents” (Department of Community Services 2002). According to Silverman (30), children exposed to violence are more likely to be traumatic and as per a survey that was conducted in 1991, children from these families portray behavioral problem mostly if their father was violent. When the mother of the child is abused, the child is also affected and this depends on the frequency of domestic violence the child witnesses or experiences.
The more it is, the more the negative effects, “any exposure or combination of exposures can be damaging and may result in long term negative effects and trauma” (Jackson 127) Children who have been brought up in families where there is domestic violence become more susceptible to adopt this system. When this happens, violence as a means of solving problems tends to be justified and these children will use it as a means of resolving their problem once they become of age. These children may spread misperception that violence is an acceptable way of doing things and this may end up affecting the whole youth in the society.
When this happens, it becomes very hard to make these children change this behavior. Domestic violence also affects the parent-child relationship. It has been noted that husbands who batter their wives in presence of their kids change the way these kids relate with them. According to a survey that was conducted in 1987, it shown that children who were victims of both verbal and physical abuse were more affected than those that only experienced verbal abuse and so the intensity and the frequency counts. (Bancroft and Silverman, 2002.
) Another impact of domestic violence on children is fear. A survey that was conducted revealed that almost all children who are witness to this type of violence express fear. It was established that there are two types of fear; general and specific. Talking about general fears is the fear that their father might do something terrible to them though they are not sure what he might do in other words, the portrayed fear of the unknown. They also said they experienced specific fear, the fear that they would be hurt by their dad.
Most children who were consulted in this survey told how they had witnessed their mothers being attacked and now they feared the same might happen to them too. Some not only feared that they might be hurt but that they might be killed. Fear as a result of domestic violence is manifested in many ways and some of these include having nightmares at night, behavioral changes for example they become aggressive and even bedwetting. Others manifestation of fear was nervous twitch, reluctance to go near the perpetrator, stuttering and nervous twitch.
Cases of children running away from home were also reported and this is an indication of how fear had ruined their thoughts system. (Jackson, 2007) Behavioral change as a result of domestic violence is outwardly expressed more in boys than in girls. Boys become aggressive while girls become withdrawn or introverts. They have low esteem and constantly complain of unknown physical symptoms. Children who hail from these families continue to blame themselves for not being able to stop it although it was not their responsibility. Domestic violence affects child’s development.
Sometimes the batterer would physically injure a child as a way of intimidating their partner. Children could also be accidentally injured when violence is targeted at their mother. Surveys show that older children are injured when they are trying to intervene but younger ones are injured while in the hands of their mother. In most cases, men who assault their wives assault their children too in fact a research that was conducted shown that 50 percent of these men do so. (Baker, et al, 2002) Another effect of domestic violence is that children become emotionally detached from their caretakers.
This is a very crucial thing that happens in children with normal life. It is from these caretakers that they learn societal norms and other expectations. The effect of this violence varies with age, to those in preschool age experience nightmares, those already in school tend to be violent and depressed while adolescents especially boys tend to emulate what their dad used to do in other words those children are desensitized to aggressive behavior and it becomes like a norm or the standard way of facing challenges and solving the problems in their life.
According to surveys that have been conducted, homelessness among adults is linked to domestic violence. Most adolescents who are considered homeless come from those families and the same happens to children who ran away from home to escape this violence. Also children who have been exposed to violence in their homes, most of them turn to be juvenile delinquents and so this violence has an effect on their developmental stages. This happens because these children are hardened and become aggressive.
They hold some beliefs that perpetrate antisocial behaviors. It is said that the more risk factors such as restlessness, aggressiveness, hyperactivity, risk taking attitude and delinquent peers a child has the more they are likely to be delinquent and it should not be forgotten that all this emanates from domestic violence. According to the research findings, domestic violence affects the child’s normal growth and development. It affects girls and boys differently and it depends on age.
Boys might become aggressive and dare devils while girls become introverted and withdrawn therefore, domestic violence can be used as a telescope to see what will happen in future. It can be used to tell who is likely to become violent or not in the future. Surveys that have been done show that husbands who batter their spouses are most likely to have been raised in homes where they were victims of the same. References: Bancroft, L. and Silverman J. G. 2002.
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