Witnessing domestic violence can have a tremendous negative impact on the emotional well-being of children. Domestic violence causes immense psychological and emotional trauma in children. It creates a hostile environment that is unpredictable and is full of fear and anxiety.
Unfortunately, a large number of children witness domestic violence in their homes. Studies have indicated at about 4 million children aged between 3-4 are exposed to domestic violence in the US alone. Most cases of domestic violence involving the child’s mother being the victim of abuse by the father.
It is very important to understand how much domestic violence can harm a child. Let’s take a better look at this.
Feelings of children who witness domestic violence
Children who witness domestic violence at an early age go through the same trauma as those who suffer child abuse. Children who see their mother being harassed, sexually or physically assaulted or threatened will experience immense trauma.
Such children are often paranoid about the future, and they constantly look for ways to avoid things to protect themselves. Simply getting through the day becomes a challenge for such children and they don’t have any time to relax, learn, play or have fun.
Behaviours of children who witness domestic violence
Domestic violence triggers a certain emotional response in children. It causes them to be fearful, anxious, shameful, guilty, sad and depressed and angry. They may also exhibit other responses such as sleeplessness, headaches, inability to concentrate and bedwetting.
The behaviour of children who are subject to domestic violence varies from one child to another. While some children will look to please out of fear, others will act out while some others will withdraw completely. None of these behaviours are healthy for a child.
Long-term effects of domestic violence
Whether or not a child is abused physically, domestic violence leaves negative long-term effects in children. Children who suffer psychological and emotional trauma at a young age grow up with a faulty idea of relationships. They believe that relationships consist of violence and intimidation.
Experts believe that such children grow up to believe that violence is a solution to most problems in life. As they grow up, they continuously resort to violence and intimidation tactics to get through problems and conflicts. This holds true both for boys as well as for girls.
Children who exhibit withdrawal due to witnessing domestic violence and those who look to please also suffer immensely. Such children are at a higher risk of getting addicted to alcohol and drugs and they may be prone to PTSD. Witnessing domestic violence is also the number one reason why children run away from their homes.
Children who grow up in a negative and hostile environment always suffer emotionally. If you are a parent, make sure not to subject your child to any form of domestic abuse. And if you’re someone who has witnessed domestic abuse in childhood, know that you’re not alone.
Several people who suffer from emotional problems because of domestic violence seek help from psychologists. Psychologists can help such people develop a positive and healthi