EXPOSURE TO VIOLENCE
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND CHILDREN
Children who experience or witnessing abusive situations are forced to process complex emotions, often without access to the resources they need to do so.
There is substantial medical research that establishes the enormous risk to children of exposing them to traumatic events such a:
The research demonstrates that these children have significant, increased risk of illnesses and injuries as children and need more medical care. Significantly, these medical problems do not end when children reach their majority but continue for the rest of their lives.This is why court systems may remove children from violent households and does not tolerate practices that result in children losing precious years from their lives. They act in the best interests of children because some parents do it themselves until they learn how to not be violent with each other...
Short-term effects of domestic violence and/or abuse on children
Children in homes where one parent is abused may feel fearful and anxious. They may always be on guard, wondering when the next violent event will happen. This can cause them to react in different ways, depending on their age:
Children in preschool.
Young children who witness intimate partner violence may start doing things they used to do when they were younger, such as bed-wetting, thumb-sucking, increased crying, and whining. They may also develop difficulty falling or staying asleep; show signs of terror, such as stuttering or hiding; and show signs of severe separation anxiety.
Children in this age range may feel guilty about the abuse and blame themselves for it. Domestic violence and abuse hurts children’s self-esteem. They may not participate in school activities or get good grades, have fewer friends than others, and get into trouble more often. They also may have a lot of headaches and stomachaches.
Teens who witness abuse may act out in negative ways, such as fighting with family members or skipping school. They may also engage in risky behaviors, such as having unprotected sex and using alcohol or drugs. They may have low self-esteem and have trouble making friends. They may start fights or bully others and are more likely to get in trouble with the law. This type of behavior is more common in teen boys who are abused in childhood than in teen girls. Girls are more likely than boys to be withdrawn and to experience depression.
Long-Term effects of domestic violence and/or abuse on children
The long-term harm of exposure to domestic violence or direct physical or sexual abuse can and does develop in a myriad of ways. A child could develop immediate and obvious symptoms or the harm can go unnoticed for many years.
Nowadays, all medical doctors often ask their patients if they experienced childhood trauma because so many different mental and physical conditions can be rooted from early childhood trauma. This is especially problematic because patients are rarely thinking about events from decades earlier as the cause of their current health problems.
There are many ways in which childhood trauma can seriously impact children's health now and in the future.
Exposure to domestic violence often:
At least half of the homeless population consists of mothers and children who left abusers. Many children also leave home because of domestic violence, physical or sexual abuse. Victims with limited financial resources often can’t afford safe housing, healthy food and needed medical care. All of this contributes to medical problems facing children impacted by domestic violence.
Many victims of childhood trauma suffer from unexplained or inadequately explained conditions. Many are labeled as hypochondriacs which may say more about the failure of the medical community to find the cause than the complaints of the victims. These experiences are painful in many ways both physically and emotionally and can prove debilitating. Living with pain undermines other parts of a person’s life and interferes with their ability to reach their potential.
How can I help my children recover after witnessing or experiencing domestic violence?
You can help your children by:
Your doctor can recommend a mental health professional who works with children who have been exposed to violence or abuse. Many shelters and domestic violence organizations also have support groups for kids.These groups can help children by letting them know they are not alone and helping them process their experiences in a nonjudgmental place
AMS proudly COLLABORATES with
Domestic Violence and Anger Management Court Certified Programs for Santa Barbara County
ANGER MANAGEMENT SPECIALISTS