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Effect Of Domestic Violence On Children

todayMay 28, 2021 11

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Domestic violence is violence committed by someone in the victim’s domestic circle. This includes partners and ex-partners, immediate family members, other relatives and family friends. Domestic violence can take the form of physical, sexual or psychological abuse.

When people think of domestic violence, they often think of how much it hurts the adult victim. It’s true that domestic and family violence is most often violent, abusive or intimidating behaviour by a man towards a woman. But what you may not realise is that children also experience domestic violence and this affects their physical and emotional health and wellbeing.

Women who experience domestic violence, more than 50% have children in their care. Domestic violence was the most commonly reported issue to Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) for children at risk of significant harm in 2010, with more than 20,000 reports received. Domestic violence is also the leading cause of homelessness for children

The impact of domestic violence on children is immense and can often affect them for the rest of their lives.

Studies show that living with domestic violence can cause physical, mental and emotional harm to children and young people in the following ways:

Anxiety and depression

Emotional distress

Eating and sleeping disturbances

Physical symptoms, such as headaches and stomach aches

They find it hard to manage stress

They have low self-esteem


Be aggressive towards friends and school mates

Feel guilt or blame themselves for the violence

They have trouble in forming positive relationships

They develop phobias and insomnia

They struggle with going to school and doing school work

Use bullying behaviour or become a target of bullying

They find it difficult to concentrate

Find it hard to solve problems

They have less empathy and caring for others

Young people exposed to domestic and family violence are more likely to:

They suffer from depression

They will be homeless

Abuse drugs and alcohol

They engage in risk-taking behaviours

Sometimes being exposed to domestic and family violence isn’t just a matter of witnessing it. Children and young people are often physically hurt during violent episodes, either accidentally or deliberately.

Children and young people need to grow up in a secure and nurturing environment. Where domestic or family violence exists, the home is not safe or secure and children are scared about what might happen to them and the people they love.

Effects of violence on children by age

In utero – An unborn child may be injured in the womb due to violence aimed at the mother’s abdomen or suffer from exposure to drugs or alcohol that a mother may use to cope with stress.

Babies – An infant exposed to violence may have difficulty developing attachments with their caregivers and in extreme cases suffer from failure to thrive.

Toddler – A preschooler’s development may be affected and they can suffer from eating and sleep disturbances.

Child – A school-aged child may struggle with peer relationships, academic performance, and emotional stability.

Teenager – An adolescent may be at higher risk of substance misuse or of either perpetrating or becoming a victim of dating violence.

In addition to the immediate trauma caused by abuse, domestic violence also contributes to a number of chronic health problems including depression and substance abuse. … Additionally, this abuse often limits a woman’s ability to manage other chronic illnesses.

Written by: Esther Godwin

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