The UN observes today, November 25 as International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. This observance raises awareness of the continuing toll of gender-based violence around the world. Violence against women and girls is one of the most prevalent human rights violations.
According to the United Nations General Assembly, one in three women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual violence — mostly by an intimate partner. Globally, 35% of women and girls will experience some form of physical and/or sexual violence. This percentage is even higher in some countries.
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Parents who grew up in an unhappy home know all too well how unsettling, if not petrifying, it can be to a child to witness violence. Witnessing can mean seeing actual incidents of physical/and or sexual abuse. It can mean hearing threats or fighting noises from another room.
Children may also observe the aftermath of physical abuse such as blood, bruises, tears, torn clothing, and broken items. The physical, psychological and emotional effects of domestic violence on children can be severe and long-lasting. Today our focus is on some of the most adverse effects of domestic violence on children.
Children who are exposed to battering become fearful. They are always on guard, watching and waiting for the next event to occur. They never know what will trigger the abuse, and therefore, they never feel safe.
2. Guilt & Depression
They may blame themselves for the abuse thinking if they had not done or said a particular thing, the abuse would not have occurred.
3. Withdrawal & Isolation
Children of abuse feel isolated and vulnerable. They are starved for attention, affection and approval. They develop low self esteem. Because mom is struggling to survive and dad is so consumed with controlling everyone, they are both not present for their children. These children become physically, emotionally and psychologically abandoned.
They may also become angry at their siblings or their mother for triggering the abuse or at both the abuser for the violence and at the mother for being unable to prevent the violence. They may feel rage, embarrassment, and humiliation.
The children may exhibit signs of anxiety and develop a short attention span which may result in poor school performance and attendance. They may experience developmental delays in speech, motor or cognitive skills.
Remember the phrase “Violence begats violence” – Children exposed to domestic violence tend to also use violence to express themselves displaying increased aggression with peers or mother. They can become self-injuring. Boys who witness their mothers’ abuse are more likely to batter their female partners as adults than boys raised in nonviolent homes. For girls, adolescence may result in the belief that threats and violence are the norm in relationships.
READ: Are You A Bad parent?
7. Drug/Alcohol Abuse
Exposure to domestic violence can have long-lasting negative affect on a child’s development and future life choices. They themselves may turn to alcohol or drugs as a way to understand or cope with their feelings.
8. Nightmares or Insomnia
For a child working through his/her feelings about these stressful events of witnessing domestic violence, nightmares and insomnia are a normal response.
9. Juvenile Delinquency
Parental conflict is a consistent pattern of family risk factors associated with the development of delinquent behavior in young children also known as teenage crime
Abuse by family members make running away appear to be the best option for teenagers who are unable to find help to change an abusive home life.
11. Constant cold, headaches
Depression and stress from home have been known to trigger migraine in children.
Often the behavioral 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 counselling. Some of these effects are also caused by bad parenting techniques which should be avoided.
Help Is Available
If you or someone you know needs is involved with domestic violence or needs help with domestic violence, please contact the nearest authorities.