Stand Against Abuse! — Leadership Newspaper

“I

need you to help my son”

“In what way does your son require support?”

“I was told that he’s emotionally imbalanced”.

“How so?”

“He was among the best students academically but lately, his performance has taken a down turn.”

“How old is he?”

“He is eight years old”

“How is your relationship with him at home?”

“It’s pretty ok. Of course, I could do with more time with him. However, the pressure of work wouldn’t permit me that luxury”

“So what do you think the issues are? Have you spoken with him about your concern? What changed in the family setting?”

“The only thing that changed is my husband humiliating and beating me in his presence…”

Children who live in homes where there is domestic violence grow up in an environment that is unpredictable, filled with tension and anxiety and dominated by fear. This can lead to significant emotional and psychological trauma, similar to that experienced by children who are victims of child abuse. Instead of growing up in an emotionally and physically safe, secure, nurturing and predictable environment, these children are forced to worry about the future; they try to predict when it might happen next and try to protect themselves and their siblings. Often getting through each day is the main objective so there is little time left for fun, relaxation or planning for the future. 

Emotional And Psychological Trauma

Children living with domestic violence suffer emotional and psychological trauma from the impact of living in a household that is dominated by tension and fear. These children will see their mother threatened, demeaned or physically or sexually assaulted. They will overhear conflict and violence and see the aftermath of the violence such as their mother’s injuries and her traumatic response to the violence. Children also may be used and manipulated by the abuser to hurt their mother.

Risk Of Physical Injury

Children may be caught in the middle of an assault by accident or because the abuser intends it.  Infants can be injured if being held by their mothers when the abuser strikes out. Children may be hurt if struck by a weapon or a thrown object and older children are frequently assaulted when they intervene to defend or protect their mothers.

A child may be directly targeted by the perpetrator and suffer physical abuse, sexual abuse and/or serious neglect. Men who abuse their partners are also likely to assault their children. At least half of all abusive partners also batter their children.

So why do people choose to remain in abusive relationships?

Sometimes, both the abuser and abused are self-unaware… both acting out a script they’ve learnt and picked up unconsciously. To break off, each needs to build capacity to know who they really are and who they want to be- conscious awareness. They need to break off what they are pretending not to know. Something happened to the mind to make it feel powerless. Something else needs to happen again to open the eyes of the mind to its possibilities. When you have strength, it’s difficult for anyone to push you aside.

Children and young people react to domestic abuse in one or more of the following ways:

Self-blame, Helplessness, Grief, Ambivalence

Fear, Dread, Terror, Worry, Sadness, Helplessness, Shame, Anger, Numbness

This in turn, may lead to:

Poor concentration, Aggression, hyperactivity, disobedience, Disturbed sleep, nightmares, Withdrawal, low self-esteem, Showing no emotion (‘spaced out’), Always on edge, wary, Fantasies about normal home life, Pessimism about the future,

Physical symptoms Young people may also suffer:

Depression, Anxiety, Withdrawal, Abuse of parents, Take on a caretaker role prematurely, trying to protect their mother, Poorly developed communication skills, Parent-child conflict, Enter marriage or a relationship early to escape the family home, Embarrassed about family, Shame, Poor self-image, Eating disorders, Low academic achievement, Dropping out from school, Low self-esteem, Staying away from home, Leaving home early, Running away from home, Feeling isolated from others, Violent outbursts, Participating in dangerous risk-taking behaviours to impress peers, Alcohol and substance abuse, Difficulty communicating feelings, Nightmares, Experiencing violence in their own relationships, Physical injuries when they try to intervene to protect mother, Suicide

The extent each child will be impacted varies depending onThe length of time the child was exposed to the domestic violence;The age of the child when the exposure began;Whether the child has also experienced child abuse with the domestic violence;

The presence of additional stressors such as poverty, community violence, parental substance abuse or mental illness and disruptions in family life;

Whether the child has a secure attachment to a non-abusing parent or other significant adult; Whether the child has a supportive social network;Whether the child has strong cultural identity and ethnic pride;The child’s own positive coping skills and experience of success;

Often the behavioural and emotional impacts of domestic and family violence will improve when children and their mothers are safe, the violence is no longer occurring and they receive support and specialist counseling.

Apart from the emotional, physical, social and behavioural damage abuse creates for children, statistics show that domestic violence can also become a learned behaviour. This means that children may grow up to think it is okay to use violence to get what they want and as adults that it is okay for there to be violence in their relationships.

Help your child to make a wiser decision. Stand against abuse.


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Stand Against Abuse! — Leadership Newspaper