What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence refers to physical and mental harm to an intimate partner or spouse. Anyone can be a victim of domestic abuse, irrespective of gender, age, and ethnicity. While the signs of physical abuse are usually evident through bodily injuries and scars, identifying mental abuse can occasionally be a challenge. If you feel unsafe or intimidated in the presence of your spouse, you are a victim of domestic violence. Preserving a toxic marriage is neither good for you, nor your child. Even if the children don’t witness the abuse, there are other ways they can perceive your partner’s aggression and distinguish your vulnerability.
Acute Effects of Domestic Violence on Children
Children between the ages of four and seven are terrorized by exposure to domestic violence at home. They may lose control over their mind and body, thereby acting more like a helpless toddler. They are reduced to whining and sobbing at all times due to panic and fear. Several young children start wetting the bed or face trouble falling asleep. They might retreat to hiding places or suck on their thumb to feel protected when they hear yelling, screaming, and fighting.
Children between the ages of eight and twelve are more aware of the surroundings. They can understand what is happening around them, and thus experience a greater range of emotions. They hate the idea of their parents not getting along and may blame themselves for some reason. The things they hear and see affect them deeply; the violence occupies their mind and they lose self-esteem. They can no longer concentrate on studies or enjoy extracurricular activities with friends. Feelings of guilt and anxiety may cause an upset stomach and throbbing pain in the head.
Teen boys and teen girls tend to act out differently than each other. While most boys are inclined to exhibit their rebellious side, girls often isolate themselves and become depressed. However, both genders are likely to get involved in drinking or drug abuse, given the wrong company and bad circumstances.
Chronic Effects of Domestic Violence on Children
Domestic violence has a strong impact on the child’s mind; horrifying incidents and images are carved into their memory. They are incapable of forgetting the pain and hostility, even after reaching adulthood. The physical and mental abuse they witnessed produces lasting negative aftereffects, compromising healthy growth and development. In many cases, a boy takes after his aggressive father; he treats his intimate partner the same way his father treated his mother. Daughters of abused mothers also repeat their mistakes; they lack confidence and do not resist violence in their relationships. Children exposed to domestic violence frequently develop trust issues and lack empathy.
The Path of Recovery
Every child’s psychology and insight differs from the other; some are surprisingly resilient, and some are overly sensitive. Many children are able to recover automatically as they grow older, while others fail to get over the trauma despite receiving professional help. Nonetheless, a positive adult role model can make a huge difference. Children need a support system, which can come from family, educators, caretakers, and even friends. If there are people in the child’s life who care for him/her and provide guidance in tough times, the chances of recuperation are robust.