One may think that a child will forget about the abuse through the years that happened behind closed doors when they were young. Think again. It lives with them forever. I know my kids are grown now and they have issues of trust and do not know how to show affection. Saying simple words like I love you is hard for them. Abuse even if it did not happen to them but they witnessed it between their parents will effect them the rest of their lives. Yes their dad was abusive towards me and they will pay for that for the rest of their lives. Some may ask why I stayed for so long. He threatened me if I didnt stay that I would never see my kids again. I thought at the time I was protecting my children. Now that they are grown I feel like I let them down.
The Effects of Domestic Violence
In homes where domestic violence occurs, children are at high risk for suffering physical abuse themselves. Regardless of whether children are physically abused, the emotional effects of witnessing domestic violence are very similar to the psychological trauma of being a victim of child abuse.
- Children in homes where domestic violence occurs may "indirectly" receive injuries. They may be hurt when household items are thrown or weapons are used. Infants may be injured if being held by the mother when the batterer strikes out.
- Older children may be hurt while trying to protect their mother.
- Children in homes where domestic violence occurs may experience cognitive or language problems, developmental delay, stress-related physical ailments (such as headaches, ulcers, and rashes), and hearing and speech problems.
- Many children in homes where domestic violence occurs have difficulties in school, including problems with concentration, poor academic performance, difficulty with peer interactions, and more absences from school.
- Boys who witness domestic violence are more likely to batter their female partners as adults than boys raised in nonviolent homes. There is no evidence, however, that girls who witness their mothers' abuse have a higher risk of being battered as adults.
- Taking responsibility for the abuse.
- Constant anxiety (that another beating will occur) and stress-related disorders.
- Guilt for not being able to stop the abuse or for loving the abuser.
- Fear of abandonment.
- Social isolation and difficulty interacting with peers and adults.
- Low self-esteem.
- Younger children do not understand the meaning of the abuse they observe and tend to believe that they “must have done something wrong.” Self-blame can precipitate feelings of guilt, worry, and anxiety.
- Children may become withdrawn, non-verbal, and exhibit regressed behaviors such as clinging and whining. Eating and sleeping difficulty, concentration problems, generalized anxiety, and physical complaints (such as headaches) are all common.
- Unlike younger children, the pre-adolescent child typically has greater ability to externalize negative emotions. In addition to symptoms commonly seen with childhood anxiety (such as sleep problems, eating disturbance, nightmares), victims in this age group may show a loss of interest in social activities, low self-concept, withdrawal or avoidance of peer relations, rebelliousness and oppositional-defiant behavior in the school setting. It is also common to observe temper tantrums, irritability, frequent fighting at school or between siblings, lashing out at objects, treating pets cruelly or abusively, threatening of peers or siblings with violence, and attempts to gain attention through hitting, kicking, or choking peers and/or family members. Girls are more likely to exhibit withdrawal and run the risk of being “missed” as a child in need of support.
- Adolescents are at risk of academic failure, school drop-out, delinquency, substance abuse, and difficulties in their own relationships.