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Effects of Domestic Violence on Children Abstract

Effectsof Domestic Violence on Children


Thereis enough evidence showing that children are affected significantlyby domestic violence. Children who experience domestic violencedevelop psychological and emotional problems. Exposures to domesticviolence make children become antisocial and develop other unwantedbehaviors including abuse of drugs and alcoholism. This studyexpounds on how exposure domestic violence affects the well-being ofchildren and their psychological and emotional development. It alsoexpounds on how witnessing domestic violence results in theexperienced lower IQs in victims of domestic violence. The study alsoprovides information about the health problems that are caused byexposure to domestic violence.

Domesticviolence is a negative practice that occurs in households. The termrefers to any mistreatment committed by an individual sharing aliving arrangement with victims or victim of assault UNSW (2011). Formany children, the home has changed significantly from a haven tosomething else because of domestic violence. Millions of childrenhave often exposed to domestic violence at their homes annually, andthis has a significant impact on not only their lives but alsoanticipations for the future. Apart from hearing their parentspugnaciously assaulting each other, children frequently hear theupsetting sounds of violence. Home violence is among the prevalenthuman rights challenges today. In fact, it is one of the hiddenproblems that many communities and families have failed to address.The effects of domestic violence on children are severe and may havelasting effects. The study expounds on the diverse effects ofdomestic violence on children. In addressing this, the paper willexpound on how domestic violence results in behavioral andpsychological problems in children.

Domesticviolence is prevalent in patriarchy cultures where male dominate asit is justified in traditions. Some of the domestic violence goesunreported because many children suffer in silence UNSW (2011).Various factors including lack of ability to report, fear of theperpetrators, and participation of primary protectors in violencemake children remain silent when violence is committed by specificpersons. Kanchiputu and Mwale note that domestic violence harms thefeelings and thinking of children. The use of insults, shouts inaddition to repeated criticisms against children makes them makedecisions based on what they hear and not what they think. Manyadults use abusive language to make children conform their commands.Children raised in such environments fail to develop criticalthinking skills since they are always guided aggressively on what todo without their consent.

Thestrongest evidence associating domestic violence with poorpsychosocial outcomes for young persons is based on a meta-analysisof about 118 studies (Devaney, 2015). According to the meta-analysisof the 118 studies, poorer results on 21 developmental as well asbehavioral dimensions was common in children that experienceddomestic violence than in children who did not experience domesticviolence. The effects of domestic violence on children start beforebirth since there is increased the risk of domestic violence againstexpectant mothers (Devaney, 2015). During pregnancy, the expectantmothers lack the ability to protect themselves and their unbornchildren, resulting in either miscarriage or long-term disability forthe born child. Children below one year also have the potential tomanifest heightened distress due to the experienced verbal conflictbetween the parents. Domestic violence harms children physically.According to Kanchiputu and Mwale (2016), a good number of childrenare exposed to injuries at their homes. Apart from receiving beatingsand being pushed, children are often assaulted by objects or weapons.Such violence harms a child physically and at the same timeemotionally.

Domesticviolence affects the academic performance of a child significantly.Violence like beats, shouts as well as ignorance and destruction of achild’s property results in psychological harm and emotional harm.They may also make a child to lose self-esteem and self-confidence.All these have great effect on a child’s learning process since itaffects the well-being of the victimized child (Kanchiputu &ampMwale, 2016). Similarly, domestic violence makes abused children loseinterest in their education. The majority of the abused childrenoften divert their attention from education to worrisome states.According to Kanchiputu and Mwale (2016), the absenteeism of mostchildren in schools is as a result of domestic violence. Abuse ofexcessive labor, food denial, and physical harm in addition to verbalaggression influences victimized children to forgo school and othersto drop out of school (UNSW, 2011).

Agood number of studies relate child abuse with much internalizingbesides externalizing behavior problems. For instance, some researchshows that an abused child can portray different psychologicalproblems such as anxiety and depression. UNSW (2011) found out thatthe behavioral and emotional outcome of children is often negativewhen they are affected by violence. The consequences of being abusedcontinue to adolescence teens’ aggression and antisocial behavior(Moylan et al., 2010). Some children also become social incompetent.Internalized problems related to emotional and psychological effectsinclude anxiety, depression, and trauma symptoms. Some alsoexperience problems with their temperament. In support of this claim,UNSW notes that review of studies on children’s perspectives showedthat many children reported feelings of sadness and confusion. Otherchildren cited the development of fear and anger because of violencethey experienced. From the argument, it is apparent that victims ofviolence are susceptible to increased levels of depression andanxiety. According to Thornton (2014), feelings such as unhappiness,anxiety, anger, and confusion are symptoms of trauma. Amanda (2015)argues that a person that experiences trauma at a younger age fail toundergo the right developmental stages. According to her, failure toundergo the required developmental stages hinders the victims’emotional growth, making them remain stagnant in one specific stage.The child will fail to develop as well as maintain the right level oftrust in his parents because he will not benefit in any way from thesafety provided in the environment.

Currently,research findings do not associate the impact of domestic violence onchildren with specific age. However, the way children of differentages are affected by domestic violence can vary. For instance, babiesexposed to domestic violence often portray increased levels of illhealth in addition to poor sleeping habits. Others scream excessivelyalong with unsettled attachment patterns. Effects of domesticviolence are usually well presented by children of pre-school age.Apart from showing behavioral disturbances like bed wetting and sleepdisturbances, the affected children show eating difficulties and arespecifically vulnerable to censoring themselves for parental violence(Devaney, 2015). In tandem with Kanchiputu and Mwale, Devaney alsoassociates poor academic performance of children with domesticviolence. According to him, older children show the effects ofdistraction in their lives through not only under performance atschools but also developing social networks poorly and engaging inanti-social behavior.

Domesticviolence also other types of victimizations often exposes children toother problems in the society. According to Devaney(2015),children living in an environment characterized by domestic violenceare susceptible to neglect, physical and sexual abuse. About hisclaim, Devaney noted that the possibility of young persons thatwitnessed family violence experiencing neglect or physical violencefrom their caregivers was about 4.4 times (Devaney, 2015). In otherwords, children’s risks of abuse were higher in homes where parentsassaulted and fought one another in the presence of their children.Similarly, UNSW claims that many children are exposed to sexualassault because of experiencing domestic violence. They also arguethat a great percentage of the children who are maltreated constitutethose who witnessed the domestic violence of partners. In theirreview, authors of UNSW argued that witnessing as well as being avictim of violence when a child increases the occurrence of partnerviolence later in life. According to them, boys impacted by domesticviolence often become perpetrators of violence against their wives.Their argument is also supported by the NationalCrime Prevention Studythat associated perpetration of partner violence with seeing parentaldomestic violence.

Children’sdisclosure to domestic violence can affect their development. It isevident that children, specifically infants and toddlers, dependentirely on the care of other people and have a strong attachment totheir mothers. Attachment theory claims that close relationshipsenable children to develop working models of their worthiness basedon the support they receive from other people (Devaney, 2015). If theability of a parent to provide the anticipated care is compromised, achild’s attachment is affected. Domestic violence impairs with thisdevelopmental requirement for security in addition to stabilitythrough the absence of the main caregiver and exposure to anaggressive atmosphere (Devaney, 2015). This often results in childrendeveloping poor quality attachments which are mostly through theirbehaviors. Some researchers also claim that exposure to domesticviolence affects the development of a child’s brain. According toDevaney, “the structure of the brain is developed over a successionof sensitive periods” (Devaney, 2015, p.87). He also argues thatthe development of complex skills take place in early stages ofdevelopment. Through his claim, a person can conclude that earlyexperiences build a basis for lifetime learning, behavior, and mentalhealth. Thus, a robust developmental foundation during early yearsincreases the chances of positive outcomes, whereas a weak foundationtriggers later difficulties (Devaney, 2015). Equally, Devaney arguesthat young children exposed to domestic violence often score low oncognitive measures. In support of this, Thornton (2014) connotes thatchildren exposed to domestic violence often present lower IQs whencompared with children from non-violent homes. According to Thornton(2014), the low IQs is one of the contributors for lower attainmentsin class works. He believes that exposing children to domesticviolence in early years, the first two years, is very detrimental tothe development of the child’s brain. Just like Devaney, Schafran(2014) argues that the domestic violence experience can affect thechild’s brain since it acts like a sponge that absorbs everythingpresented to it from the environment.

ChildhoodIntimate Partner Violence (IPV) exposure is associated with increasedoccurrence of numerous physical health problems in affected children(Schafran, 2014). One mechanism that supports this correlation is thechanged neuroendocrine stress response. According to Schafran (2014),exposures to a highly stressful environment like IPV make childrendevelop fight or flight response. Although these responses might beadaptive within a short time, it is apparent that repeated activationcan cause pathologic changes in an individual’s multiple systems atthe end. According to Amanda (2015), the experience of domesticviolence in a family system make a child think that he is in constantdanger, leading to what Schafran referred to as fight or flightresponse.

Theincreased abuse of drugs by young adults and children is also as aresult of experiencing domestic violence. As it was argued somewhereabove, exposure to domestic violence influences the behavior of achild significantly. A good number of children consider suicideattempts and abuse of drugs including alcoholism as solutions to theproblems they experience in life (Webb, 2013). According to Webb(2013), the majority of the children who witness their mothers’abuse resort to the use of drugs and alcohol during adolescence. Fromthis argument, one can conclude that children exposed to violenceadapt some un-societal behaviors to console themselves. Abuse ofdrugs diverts their thinking about their current situations as theycan influence the way a person thinks. In support of the claim,Amanda (2015) notes that alcohol and drug use are often used by thevictims to rationalize violent behaviors.

Domesticviolence makes children develop distrust feelings on specific membersof the society. For instance, female children who experience theirmothers being abused by their fathers develop a negative attitudeabout men (Amanda, 2015). Such girls grow up into women that hate menand could wish not to associate with any man. The assertion is backedwith Amanda’s findings in which a young boy cited loss of trust onany man close to his mother after experiencing his father beating hismother. The boy also told Amanda that he often had nightmares aboutseeing a man beating and bruising her mother (Amanda, 2015). From theboy’s description of his experience following exposure to domesticviolence, a person can conclude that domestic violence results inpost-traumatic disorders that affect children in their life. Theviolent environment in which the child grows makes him or she losetrust instead of gaining it at early stages. As a result, the childgrows knowing that the world is a representation of danger as well asvolatility and that specific person should not be trusted (Amanda,2015).

Inconclusion, children are affected significantly by domestic violencethat takes place in their immediate environment. The poorrelationship between a child’s parents makes him or her to developpsychological and emotional problems in life. Children exposed todomestic violence are often antisocial and aggressive. Domesticviolence also makes children develop inappropriate behaviorsincluding abuse of drugs and alcohol to manage the effects of theirexperience. Domestic violence also results in health problems inchildren. Abuse of substances is one of the robust evidence of healthproblems caused by domestic violence. Domestic violence affects thepsychological and emotional development of the affected child.Children exposed to domestic violence rarely moves from one stage ofdevelopment to another since their brains are occupied with distress.Children exposed to domestic violence also perform extremely poor inschool when compared to those not exposed to any violence. Theaffected children often present lower measures of IQs. Victims ofdomestic violence also withdraw from school by preoccupying theirbrain with the outcomes of domestic violence. Based on the presentedargument in this study, it is crucial for parents to provide childrenwith the right environment for growth and development. Parents shouldalso maintain a good relationship between themselves to provide thechild with the right attachments for development.


Amanda,L. (2015). Domestic Violence in Families: Theory, Effects, andIntervention. Social Justice Solutions.

Devaney,J. (2015). Research Review: The Impact of Domestic Violence onChildren. Irish Probation Journal.

Kanchiputu,P. &amp Mwale, M. (2016). Effects of Domestic Violence on Children’sEducation: The Case Study of Mpemba, in Blantyre District [Malawi].JPsychol Abnorm.

Moylan,C. et al. (2010). The Effects of Child Abuse and Exposure to DomesticViolence on Adolescent Internalizing and Externalizing BehaviorProblems. JFam Violence.

Schafran,L. (2015). Domestic Violence, Developing Brains, and the Lifespan NewKnowledge from Neuroscience. TheJudges` Journal.

Thornton,V. (2014). Understanding the Emotional Impact of Domestic Violence onChildren. Educational&amp Child Psychology.

UNSW.(2011). The Impact of Domestic Violence on Children: A LiteratureReview. The Benevolent Society.

Webb,R. (2013). The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study:Implications for Mothers’ &amp Children’s Exposure to DomesticViolence. PracticePerspective.