Similar to alcoholism, domestic violence is often repeated by children who experience it. It’s a “sins of the father” type of scenario that affects young ones on a deeper level than most parents realize. So, what exactly do children learn from living in a home with domestic violence? Here’s the harsh truth.
Fear and anxiousness are the primary emotions felt by children raised in abusive homes. They often fear the next violent outburst from both the abusive parent and other adults by proxy. These emotions cause them to revert to a more primal or infantile state.
This reversion is seen in bed-wetting, thumb sucking, and increased crying long after the child has grown out of these habits. They may develop insomnia or night terrors. Signs of terror also appear in the forms of hiding, stuttering, or separation anxiety.
Heading out of preschool into their elementary education years, children often feel that they are to blame for the violence. Their self-esteem is tarnished, leading to lower grades and a lack of participation or play with other children. They might act out, suffer from headaches, or experience stomachaches more often.
As teens, the negative consequences triple. Children often skip school and fight with family members, repeating similar behavior and phrases they have witnessed. The use of drugs and promiscuity rise as their self-esteem drops to all-time lows. You may learn that they bully other children at school. According to a divorce lawyer, some resort to breaking the law while others become withdrawn and experience severe depression.
As adults, individuals are more likely to repeat the cycle of abuse. Males who witness their mothers being abused are ten times as likely to abuse a partner, while women are six times more likely to be abused both physically and sexually.
Health risks also enter the equation. Depression and anxiety run rampant along with other mental health conditions. The risk for heart disease, obesity, and diabetes also increase. Poor self-esteem continues into adulthood, leading to a wide array of psychological issues.
The earlier the abuse stops, the better. While each child responds differently to treatment and help, studies show that recovery is possible in most children. Incorporating a strong support system, bolstering self-esteem, and encouraging healthy relationships with other children and adults is vital.
While children never forget what they have experienced or witnessed, they can overcome their previous environment by learning how to cope with their emotions in healthy ways. Both physical and mental issues decrease in relation to the timeframe in which help is sought.
What if I’m Not Ready to Leave My Abusive Partner?
You’re not alone. Countless individuals simply are not ready to leave their partner despite the abuse. However, you have to remember that the lives of your children are at stake. A domestic violence defense lawyer recommends the following:
- Create a safety plan that removes your child from the abuse and witnessing it
- Listen to what your child has to say about their feelings in general and about the abuse
- Reassure your child that abuse is never okay and that it is not their fault
- Reach out to support personnel who can help you identify what your options are in your situation
- More than anything, make a plan to leave as soon as possible