Domestic Violence and Children
Children are the future of the human race, and they are learning everyday how to become that future by watching their parents and caretakers navigate through the world. Children will often imitate what they see. They learn how to talk by hearing and watching their parents do it. They learn how to dress, behave, and even feel by imitating the people they see around them. This can be a joy of parenting. However, it may also be somewhat discouraging when you consider issues like domestic violence and children.
Most people would like to think that childhood is a true time of innocence, a time when a young person is free to feel out and explore the world in utter joy and astonishment. Sadly, for many kids, this is not the case. Even if they are not the subjects of abuse, witnessing domestic violence can be a tragedy in and of itself. For starters, it’s a confusing message to a child who naturally wants attention and love. At school, that same child may be taught not to hit or fight, and to respect others.
Violence in the home can also be a source of embarrassment and shame for a child. That child may feel a sense of responsibility for the violence, or they may experience guilt for not standing up to the abusing parent. It is also common to feel torn between love and hate for an abusing parent. These feelings can be very damaging to a young person who is just learning how to plot a course through the world.
When the violence is turned on the child, there are many repercussions that extend beyond bruises and scars. Being physically assaulted, especially when it’s part of a greater pattern of violence, may take a toll on a child emotionally, invoking strong emotions such as rage, depression, and hopelessness. Children may act out in school, skip classes, or fail tests and earn poor grades on homework. Older children and teens may exhibit promiscuity or other harmful behaviors in an attempt to rebel or take control of a situation where they find they have little.
Domestic violence against a child can greatly impact his or her feelings of self-worth and may affect nearly all future relationships, especially romantic ones. A child that has witnessed abuse or been abused is also much more likely to become an adult abuser or victim of domestic abuse by a partner.