Witnessing domestic violence in one’s childhood can scar one for life. And it is not a matter that is to be taken lightly. If you are a victim of domestic violence, understand that whatever the direct results are, the children will always suffer the indirect tortures of domestic violence.
In most domestic violence cases, the children act as spies, blackmail or liabilities. But even witnessing the act itself can damage their lives beyond repair. Witnessing the act includes seeing, hearing, and observing the aftermath such as blood, tears and bruises.
Since October is the Domestic Violence Awareness month, we’ve gathered some ways in which the children have to undergo damaging effects due to domestic violence:
Emotional and psychological trauma:
- They become fearful and anxious
- Always on guard because they never feel safe when the abuser is home.
- Worried for mother, siblings or themselves.
- They tend to think they are worthless and powerless because they can’t stop the violence.
- Can’t discuss these issues with friends. Therefore, they lead isolated and poor social lives.
- Seek affection, attention and approval from elsewhere because neither one of their parents have time for them.
- Grow up feeling abandoned.
Direct physical abuse and risk of injury:
- The abuser might turn to them knowing it’ll hurt the mother more to see the children get hurt.
- Male children would abuse their sisters by request of the father.
- Serious neglect by the abuser while the victim too isn’t allowed to converse with children.
- They might get injured in trying to intervene.
- Fear, guilt, shame, sleep disturbances, anger and depression
- Stomachaches, headaches, bedwetting, loss of weight and appetite, loss of ability to concentrate.
- Poor school performances and attendance
- Delays in developmental speech, growth, and cognitive skills
- Violence in expressing themselves
- Prone to self injury
Long term effects:
- The children grow up with a “male role model” that turned to violence. They might believe that the mother was weaker and therefore, ally with the father and justify his actions. It could also be that the abuser has brainwashed them to think that their mother is crazy, stupid or weak.
- The male children would grow up to be misogynists and batter their future spouses. On the other hand, the girls would believe that women are meant to be subdued and that violence is the norm in a relationship.
- Children would look to abuse as an effective problem solver.
- Higher risk of alcohol/drug abuse
- Witnessing domestic violence is the number one reason for juvenile delinquency and adult criminality.
- It is also the main reason children run away.