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Effects of Domestic Violence on Children

Children who witnesses domestic violence against his or her parent is a victim of domestic violence as well. Approximately five million children witness domestic violence in their homes each year. A child may be a witness to his or her parent being emotionally abused, physically abused, economically abused and/or even sexually abused.

No matter how hard a parent tries to shield their child from the abuse he or she receives from an abusive partner, the child usually knows what is occurring. Even a young infant can tune into the tension and emotional feelings of his or her mother.

Most children will experience problems if they live in a violent home and witness a parent being abused. Children who witness abuse are more inclined to have behavior and emotional problems. Some children will develop psychosomatic disorders. This may include bed-wetting, school problems, night terrors, stuttering, excessive fear and crying. Children may experience depression, suicidal behaviors and phobias if they are kept in a violent household.

Older children may blame themselves for the abuse a parent receives. Older children may even step into the abuse to direct the attention onto themselves and off of the battered parent. There is a great risk that children who witness abuse may grow up thinking that violence is the only means to resolve emotional and relationship conflicts. Boys who grow up in an abusive home are more likely to batter their future partners versus boys who grow up in a nonviolent home. Children who have witnessed abuse to a parent are also more likely to drink alcohol and abuse drugs.

Children who live in a domestically violent home will suffer some form of neglect, be it physical or emotional. It isn’t always just the mother who is abused, but the children may be abused as well. Many adults who were abused when they were children report that witnessing the abuse to their mother was harder for them to deal with then the abuse they personally received.

If you are a victim of domestic violence, help is available. You can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE. They will direct you to safe places in your area where you can seek help.

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