How Domestic Violence Hurts Children

Nothing could hurt worse than seeing a parent hurt.

Nothing could hurt worse than seeing a parent hurt.

Ever since the O. J. trial, domestic violence stories abound. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence writes that “about 1.3 million woman are victims of assault by their intimate partners each year.”

How could this not hurt children?

Both men and women may become victims of domestic violence. NCADV states that 85% of the victims are women. Witnessing the trauma of violence can have a profound and lifelong effect on children. Some children have seen a parent murdered by their partner and others have endured the suicide of a parent who saw no way out. Even seeing one parent hit another is terrifying to a child. It can cause post traumatic stress disorder, loss of self-esteem, depression, aggression and delinquency, poor school adjustment, learned victim/aggressor roles, early marriage, continuation of violent behavior into adulthood, and expansion of violence into the community, such as through bullying and gang activity. A child who experiences bullying at home is more likely to bully others. As adults they often repeat the patterns of violence they experienced as a child. Many, but not all, who witnessed abuse become abusers themselves.

Growing Seasons groups are support groups, not counseling, but they can help children heal from domestic violence.

There are certain characteristic behaviors in children who experience family violence:

1. Older children experience role reversal. They feel forced to take on the household and child care responsibilities, leaving no time for normal childhood activities.

2. Some children show aggression and violence directed toward parents or other children.

3. On the other end of the continuum, they may be withdrawn so that no one sees the pain or tries to help.

4. They may skip school, thinking their presence is needed at home to protect the abused parent.

5. Some children run away to avoid the home situation.

6. Others turn to drugs to escape the pain.

If domestic violence happens in your home, GET HELP. Do it for yourself and for your child. If you are a friend of someone who is a victim, talk to your friend about getting help. NOW!

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