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Domestic violence is any abusive or cruel behavior like physical attacks, sexual abuse, rape, threats, intimidation, humiliating, and controlling behavior. It also includes deprivation of finances, isolation, criticizing among others in relationships where one partner controls or dominates the other.
Domestic violence is one of those vices that are difficult to address. Adults in the form of parents physically or psychologically abuse their kids. Parents are not the only ones to blame; relatives, neighbors and their friends are also in the mix. Almost everywhere it is a taboo subject; usually it is exceedingly difficult to start a conversation about it and it is even more excruciating to participate in one. All races, nationalities, economic and educational backgrounds are subject to this form of abuse. The abuse can take terribly many forms, all destructive in the family dynamics (Jaffe & Cunningham 2004).
Children in different age groups who experience the abuse display different responses and reactions. The term child, according to the dictionary, refers to a young human being who is not yet an adult and is under the care of a parent (Hester, 2007).
The domestic abuse starts as early pregnancy. The mother is fully responsible of the child; at this moment, her diet and lifestyle are the key factors regarding the unborn child’s wellbeing. Her emotional state is paramount, if she experiences emotional distress like nervousness, irritability among others, the development of the fetus may be hampered. She will not experience those emotions if she is in a peaceful environment. However, if the partner is abusive and neglectful, she might develop problems which might ultimately cause miscarriage or a forced termination. Poor fetal growth and consequent effects experienced by the unborn child’s brain development may lead to brain damage at birth. Babies and young children affected intensely by the domestic violence suffer from the life-long impact (Jaffe & Cunningham 2004).
The next age-group is the school age children. This group ranges from kindergarten to the end of high school. In most families where there is an abusive parent, usually the father, the other parent decides to stay in the set up for the sake of the children. In the real sense, financial dependency is a hidden factor to most abusive homes. The children experience a daily showcase of how” a normal family” lives. Research shows that at least a quarter of the spouses who physically abuse their partners’ abuse their children.
Children who experience spousal abuse in their homes get petrified by the experience; if the inter-parental abuse is serious, the child can experience post-traumatic stress disorder. The worst outcome is being directly abused (Hester, 2007).
Children living in domestic violence live with unbearable levels of fear and insecurity. They arrive at school tense sometimes experiencing tantrums on the thought of leaving their mothers at home alone. Anxiety is also observed during the day; when the school day ends, they are unwilling to leave their friends to go home. Home, in the normal sense, is perceived to be a place to unwind and relax, however, for these children, it is viewed as a battlefront. Mostly they fear harm or death of their mother, separation of their parents, safety of their siblings and pets, humiliation of neighbors hearing or seeing the violence.
If the family has escaped the perpetrator, constant dread and worry of being tracked down by the abuser, court cases to decide on custody, being abducted, then finally some may experience nightmares (Jaffe & Cunningham 2004).
The children who live in these situations may have delayed development in speech, language, and cognitive skills. This is because the mistreated mother was not able to interact with her children. The children will become withdrawn and passive spending less time communicating with other children and engaging in learning activities. Concentration and the intake of new information are also altered. Also, missed school reduces the learning opportunities. Their main preoccupation is safety instead of books. Constant anxieties are exhibited by fiddling, poking others, lashing on schoolmates among others. These children are difficult to manage and their behavior impacts negatively their studies (Hester, 2007).
The domestic violence can adversely affect the relationships children have with their peers. Some distance themselves because of the fear of others knowing about their family affairs. Some fear to invest in new relationships others can become clingy, possessive and suffer from the thought of further loss. Others are control freaks in their relationships refusing to work or play with other people’s agenda. This makes them have difficulty in maintaining friendships (MacGee, 2000).
The kids who experience domestic violence are usually easily agitated and over-react when in stressful conditions. Others may react to threatening situations by fighting and becoming exceedingly hostile, while some run out of school. They are sensitive to shouting, irate adult interactions and physical contact. The consequences to this unexplained behavior might be temporary exclusion in the form of suspensions or permanent exclusion from school (MacGee, 2000).
The children also develop a lack of trust in adults deeming them undependable or dishonest. Some develop beliefs that people in authority are to be feared.
Usually these children have a burden of feelings of being responsible of what is going on at home followed by self-blame, guilt, and confusion. They feel as if they are the underlying reason for the conflict and, therefore, think that their villainous behavior might be because of the violence. They might also think that they are a financial burden, their demands for attention and time from their parents may have caused his or her parents to argue. These thoughts are a heavy burden for the children; they may feel that it is their responsibility to stop the violence and, in so doing, they put themselves in danger (Hester, 2007).
Domestic violence in the family set up is the worst form of upbringing a child can ever get. The formative years of a child are considered to be the most vital. They determine how the child will be as an adult and how he or she will manage their lives. This vice should be stopped by parents who, I suggest, should attend conflict resolution classes and marriage counseling.