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How Does Domestic Violence Affect Children?

Posted on in Family Law

McHenry County family law attorneyAs children develop, they tend to learn the basics of life, such as walking and talking, from their parents. They also rely on parents to teach them skills that will allow them to become self-sufficient. However, parents can also have a negative impact on their children. In a home where domestic violence has occurred, even young children can sense the problems, and witnessing violence can have lasting effects on children of all ages.

What Is Considered Domestic Violence?

“Domestic violence” is a term that describes a variety of behaviors used by a person to maintain power over a family member or member of the same household. Most commonly, domestic violence occurs between former and current romantic partners, and it may include threats, physical abuse, sexual abuse, intimidation, isolation, or emotional manipulation. Domestic violence is seen in all social, economic, and racial groups, and it can affect partnerships ranging from casual relationships to married couples. Whether intentional or not, the abuser uses their power to keep the victim in an unhealthy relationship.

The Effects of Witnessing Domestic Violence

Millions of children witness abuse at home every year. A child deserves a healthy and safe home environment, but in cases involving domestic violence, home may be the last place he or she would want to be. Living with domestic abuse may mean witnessing physical violence, hearing fights, and seeing the aftermath, such as bruises or property damage. When they live in a home where violence is occurring, children may experience a variety of negative effects, including:

  • Health concerns: Even if a child is not physically harmed, living in a situation with physical abuse can cause emotional trauma. The child may feel the pressure of keeping the “family secret.” This can cause mental health issues, such as anxiety or depression, because the child may feel powerless and scared for themself, a sibling, or a parent. The emotional stress can stunt a child’s emotional growth and manifest into physical problems, such as insomnia or physical pain.

  • Extreme isolation: Children who witness abuse at home are often scared about who will find out about it. They may even blame themselves for the abuser’s behavior. As a result, many children begin shutting others out and isolating themselves. They stop asking friends to come over, and they stop trying to do things on their own. Over the long term, extreme isolation could lead to serious mental health disorders such as complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD).

  • Future relationships: A child learns unhealthy coping mechanisms and conflict resolution methods when living in a home with abuse. The parents’ relationship may become a role model or standard for what the child expects in their own romantic relationships down the line. For example, if a child’s father is constantly putting down his or her mother, this shows the child that verbally abusing women is acceptable. Children who grow up with violence are also more likely to become abusers or be involved in an abusive relationship.

Contact a McHenry County Domestic Abuse Attorney

No child deserves to live in fear. If you are a victim of domestic violence, contact an experienced Crystal Lake family law attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC to learn about your options for securing protection for you and your children. Call our office at 815-338-3838 to schedule a free consultation with a compassionate member of our team today.




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