As we discuss domestic violence awareness this month, it is important to delve deeper into the impacts on children living in households affected by such violence. Even if children are not directly involved in the incidents, they are highly likely to be affected by the ongoing turmoil and distress. It is crucial to acknowledge and address the significant impacts this can have on their well-being and overall development.
- Children are more aware of what is happening than most adults believe. As adults, we often want to shield our children from the violence that is happening in the household. However, children are often aware of the issue even if they don’t witness it firsthand. They might overhear the arguing or be aware of the tension they see when the adults interact. We cannot assume that they don’t know what is happening or that we are doing a “good job” hiding it from them.
- Children often feel that they are at least partly to blame for what is happening. Children are naturally self-centered and, as such, often believe that the events in their lives are happening because of them. While we as adults can clearly understand that our children are not to blame for domestic violence, they often don’t have the developmental capacity to make that distinction. It is essential to communicate that it is not their fault.
- Domestic violence can have many immediate and long-term consequences for children. It is important to remember that children each experience and process their world differently. While some children may show obvious signs of distress from experiencing domestic violence, others may try to hide it and act as if things are “normal” or “fine.” Just like we can’t assume they don’t know what’s happening, we can’t assume they aren’t being affected.
What Kind of Consequences Can Children Experience as a Result of Domestic Violence?
Psychological and Emotional Impact
Exposure to domestic violence can cause severe psychological and emotional distress in children. Witnessing violence within their own home can create feelings of fear, anxiety, and helplessness. These experiences can have long-lasting effects on their mental health, leading to issues such as depression, low self-esteem, and difficulties in forming healthy relationships later in life.
The effects of domestic violence can also manifest in physical symptoms in children. The constant stress and fear they experience within their environment can impact their physical health, leading to problems such as headaches, stomachaches, and other stress-related ailments. Additionally, they may engage in self-harming behaviors or develop unhealthy coping mechanisms as a result of the trauma they have endured.
Children who witness domestic violence often face significant disruptions in their education. The constant upheaval within their home environment can make it difficult for them to concentrate, resulting in poor academic performance. Moreover, the emotional turmoil they experience may lead to increased absences from school, further hampering their educational progress and potential.
So, what should you do to protect your children from the effects of domestic violence? The first step is taking care of yourself! The most helpful thing a child needs to recover from the trauma of domestic violence is a stable environment, and the only way they will be able to get that is if it is provided for them. Beyond this, it can be helpful for you and your child to seek professional help. We at Heartland Therapy Connection would love to be a part of your healing journey! Do not hesitate to reach out to us and make an appointment with one of our trauma-informed therapists today.