Domestic Violence & Children

As we take in the fall season and all the beauty that it has to offer we can’t forget that there are those who are suffering in very hard and ugly realities. That is domestic violence (DV) and October is Domestic Violence Month. DV is not only physical abuse, but it can show up in many different ways. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, threats, and emotional/psychological abuse. The frequency and severity of domestic violence varies dramatically.

Don’t be mistaken there are men as well as women who are abused. It can also be in same sex partner relationships. Working in over 10 years in Child Protective Services I have come across many cases where DV is only one of the issues that families go through. Unfortunately it can be hidden and masked in many different ways. Children are often told not to say anything. I don’t know about you, but back in the day and even children today have told me that “what goes on at home stays at home”. Now that can mean many different things, such as a parent divorcing, a parents drinking to much, or how children are disciplined.

According to Walter Jackson in his article about the affects of DV on children. During these trying economic times, Americans stress level is on the rise. The top stressors according to surveys by the American Psychological Association (APA) are: money (81%), the economy (80%), work (67%), and health problems affecting the family (67%).

Domestic violence is a byproduct of stress especially when we are talking about financial problems, and parents underestimate the effects this has on children. Children who witness domestic violence don’t have any outlets.

The APA reports children exposed to domestic violence are more likely to exhibit behavioral and physical health problems including depression, anxiety, and violence towards peers. These children are also more likely to attempt suicide, abuse drugs and alcohol, run away from home, engage in teenage prostitution, and commit sexual assault crimes. Like I mentioned before when working with families you can start  out helping families with one issue, but  DV can be the root cause among other things.

Parents have to realize that when there is domestic violence in the home, they risk getting their children taken away, because kids often get hurt during these family fights. Once that happens, it’s hard to get them back, or not at all, depending on each case.  Although many are good parents who simply lose their tempers during financial stresses, the system still looks at violence in the home as a safety issue for children. Parents have to find ways to work out their differences, anger management, and other ways to bring their families back to a healthy state. Now, I am not saying that if someone is beating you up, you are to stay, not at all. Get the hell out of that situation and seek help especially if you have children.

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One way to reduce violence in a relationship is for the couple to agree on a nonverbal signal that either of them can use during a disagreement – when they are concerned that violence might occur. Sometimes it’s just helpful to walk away in an escalated situation. Let me tell you, we don’t give kids enough credit. Children know more than you think they know. When interviewing children they are able to verbalize what parents argue over. They have told me that there are financial troubles, infidelity, who didn’t cook dinner, who stayed out too late, etc. When I speak with parents on what they think their children’s perceptions are, these parents really think that children don’t have a clue. Guess What! They do. We have to remember, children are watching what you do. If you stay in an abusive relationship  what kind of message are you sending your children. What kind of message are you sending them about their future relationships as an adult. If you have girls what kind of message are you sending to them on what to expect from their partners and what love is and what love feels like. The implications are so beyond your present situation because it could manifest into something greater. We think children are resilient, and they’ll bounce back from witnessing domestic violence, but that simply isn’t true. On the surface they may seem fine, but like adults, they suppress their feelings and that pain comes out sooner or later in other harmful ways.

A lot of men/women especially feel badly that they are not able to support their families. But parents must not tie their self worth to their finances. If you feel you may get violent, find spiritual and/or mental health counseling help. There are free services available out there and know that whatever you are going through, it will get better. There are so many local resources where you are. Seek those out and if you are not personally going through this and you know someone who is help them by giving information.

A part of being great human beings , is that we have compassion and should love ourselves enough to want better for our lives and well being.

Jackson, W. H. (2008, October 23). October is Domestic Violence Month, Remember the Children. Retrieved October 22, 2018, from http://ezinearticles.com/?October-­is-­Domestic-­Violence-­Month,-­Remember-­the-­Children&id=1611270

 

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