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Domestic Violence and the psychological impact on children

Domestic Violence and the psychological impact on children

Domestic Violence and the psychological impact on children

Because their environment is unpredictable, children born and raised in families where domestic violence occurs experience dread, anxiety, and tension as they grow up. The youngsters undergo psychological stress and emotional trauma as a result, which is identical to what children who have experienced child abuse go through (Antle et al., 2007). Children develop a fear of the future, try to foretell what will happen the next day, and devise ways to defend themselves and their siblings in the event of future violence (Antle et al., 2007). Children must develop to survive the day rather than live in the physically and emotionally safe and secure environment they are supposed to grow in. Such kids do not spend much time having fun, making plans, or unwinding. Children who are exposed to domestic abuse frequently grow up to be aggressive, hyperactive, and rebellious. Poor attention, low self-esteem, nightmares, restless nights, and fantasies of leading a typical domestic life are some other effects (Sharpen, 2009).

Many intervention strategies are employed when domestic violence occurs to protect the victim from the abuser. It is intended to assist victims of domestic violence in coping with the resulting physical, psychological, and emotional stress (Howarth et al., 2016). The response to domestic violence includes having an empathic conversation with the victim, evaluating his or her needs, and providing psychiatric treatment to prevent further problems in the future (Howarth et al., 2016). A better discussion of the effects of domestic violence on children is provided in this paper, which can aid in the development of effective intervention strategies. Measures to contain it should be strengthened in order to lessen the long-term consequences on children because domestic violence has had numerous detrimental effects on child upbringing.

Research Review

Whether they are adolescents or even adults, children who have been exposed to domestic abuse begin to feel the repercussions. Behavioral, cognitive, social, mental health and physiological issues are some of the negative impacts (Sharpen, 2009).

Many initiatives have been created for the intervention and prevention of domestic violence. These initiatives include preventative, community-based intervention, and parent and child psychotherapy intervention. These initiatives have undergone empirical evaluation in numerous nations with the aim of preventing the negative consequences of domestic violence on children (Stanley, 2011).

Previous research

According to (Antle et al. 2007, Chang et al. 2008, Holt et al. 2008, and Stanley 2011), domestic violence has a negative impact on a child’s development in many areas, including their mental and educational well-being. Domestic abuse has comparable negative impacts on kids, as does child abuse. However, professionals conducting child protection training receive less attention from this link (Sharpen 2009).

In order to build a knowledge base that might be utilized to train clinicians and general practice teams on the relationships between child safeguarding and domestic violence, Researching Education to Strengthen Primary Care On Domestic Violence and Safeguarding (RESPONDS) undertook another study (Chang, Theodore, Martin, & Runyan, 2008). As a result of the study, it was found that combining training in child safety and domestic violence provided new opportunities for clinicians and general practice teams to become more proficient in handling situations involving the protection of children in violent homes (Chang et al., 2008).

According to (Gellert 2007), there are a number of causes and unrelated concerns that are linked to child neglect and domestic violence, such as violence in the parent family, substance misuse, social isolation, and economic difficulties. It has been demonstrated that kids exposed to domestic violence and child abuse later develop behavioral issues such as depression, anxiety, and social withdrawal (Kernic et al., 2003). Other risk variables linked to domestic violence include the perpetrator’s personality features, traditional values, and verbal confrontations (Gellert, 1997; Stets, 1995; Williams, 1995). Additional risk factors for domestic violence that a kid may encounter include poor parenting abilities, mother despair, and parental culpability (Smokowski & Wodarski, 1996).

Ross (1996) estimates that roughly 50% of batterers also actively harm their children, whereas Hughes (1997) places the comorbidity rates of child abuse and marital abuse in the range of 40% to 60%. Ross also notes that just 24% of those who have been abused take action or revenge against the abuser (Ross, 1996). Hughes (2007) came to the conclusion that domestic abuse causes children to become maladjusted later in life.

Effects of Domestic Violence on Children’s Mental Health

Domestic abuse has numerous implications on mental health, as was mentioned above. Some of these results are as follows:


Studies have shown a connection between a child’s exposure to domestic violence and internalizing symptoms like despair and anxiety. Additionally, studies have revealed that kids who are repeatedly exposed to domestic violence are more prone to anxiety and depression than kids who grow up in amiable, violence-free situations (Stanley, 2011).

Signs of Trauma

When children grow up, post-traumatic stress disorder can have an impact on them. Reliving violent experiences, having trouble focusing and paying attention, having intrusive thoughts, feeling numb, and having nightmares are a few of these symptoms. Moreover, research has demonstrated that prior exposure to domestic violence is the cause of the greater rates of post-traumatic stress disorder in children (Ross, 2016).

Possibility of physical harm

Children may become hurt if they become involved in the conflict either intentionally or as hostages. When a youngster is holding an object intended for the victim or tries to defend the victim, they risk being struck (Chang et al., 2008).

During a divorce, there may be violence, such as kidnapping.

The abuser may use the victim’s innocence to his or her advantage by kidnapping and holding the victim’s children hostage in an effort to prevent the victim from leaving or coming home after being separated. As a result of long-term child suffering or even death as a result of the abuser punishing the victim, the risk is often high (Howarth et al., 2016).

How Domestic Violence is Experienced by Children in the Household.

Children may encounter domestic violence in their homes in a variety of ways, including;

Observing the prevalence of domestic violence

hearing arguments or fights, as well as threats being made,

taking hostages, joining in, or otherwise participating in the violence

Seeing the damage, which includes blood, shattered objects, injuries, torn clothing, and

recognizing the presence of violence in the home (Gellert, 2017).

Children Exposed to Domestic Violence: Interventions

Most nations have a wide range of services to assist victims of domestic violence, particularly women and children. The majority of these initiatives are shelter programs that were developed in the US in the 1970s in an effort to address the fundamental issues surrounding the provision of shelter locations for women and children who are victims of domestic violence (Howarth et al., 2016). Shelter programs now include a wide range of social services, counseling, legal aid, job training, housing assistance, and drug and alcohol misuse control. The shelter programs are used by numerous organizations, including NGOs, hospitals, women’s groups, and religious institutions. These groups have hired psychologists, social workers, and medical professionals to offer the necessary treatment to victims of domestic abuse (Howarth et al., 2016).

In a study conducted, two reviews were utilized in the systematic assessment of interventions for kids exposed to domestic abuse (Howarth et al., 2016). The first review, which was examined, was published in English between 2000 and 2002 and used a variety of study designs. Cohort studies, qualitative studies, observational studies, and cross-sectional studies were a few of the study designs used in these studies. The second review was conducted by Rizo et al. and summarized the interventions that aimed to protect kids who had been directly or indirectly exposed to domestic abuse. It also included research from the previous review that used quantitative approaches as the study design (Howarth et al., 2016). Howarth et al. (2016) considered interventions that aimed to improve the mental health, behavior, educational, or social outcomes in their study of children who had been exposed to domestic abuse. The appropriate interventions were those that were either directed alone at the parent, exclusively at the children or both at the parent and the children.

The majority of interventions focus on the parent, particularly the mother, even though children are often the victims of domestic violence. This is predicated on the idea that the parent will defend the child if they alter their behavior. Programs like parent support groups, mental health support, home visits, parent education, therapy services, and social support services are examples of such initiatives (Kernic et al., 2003). Intervention programs for children exposed to domestic violence include therapeutic treatments, conflict resolution abilities, and capacity-building against abuse (Gellert, 2017).

Obstacles to a Successful Reaction

Despite the victims reporting the incidents to healthcare professionals, the majority of domestic violence goes unreported. Just 6% of victims are identified and assisted by the relevant authorities, according to studies. The majority of caregivers in healthcare environments are unaware of the incidence of victim abuse. Also, there are only a few main programs that teach about domestic abuse, and continuing medical education courses hardly ever include the subject in their curricula (Gellert, 2017).

Some caregivers are also timid or afraid to ask questions concerning domestic abuse out of concern that they will not hear back for a while. The misunderstandings and attitudes of healthcare professionals concerning domestic violence, as most of them may believe that domestic violence does not exist among their patients, are additional impediments to the effective treatment of domestic abuse (Kernic et al., 2003). This frequently happens to healthcare professionals whose patients come from the same profession, socioeconomic status, educational background, or cultural or religious affiliations.

Some service providers may also be familiar with the family’s history and believe there is never a danger of domestic violence occurring, but this is not always the case (Howarth et al., 2016).

Effects of Not Intervening

Although there has been information regarding domestic abuse since the 1970s, healthcare providers are just now starting to notice it. Even among countries with improved domestic violence practices, most hospitals have chosen to overlook the problem. When a healthcare facility is unwilling to assist a victim of domestic violence, especially a woman or kid who reaches out for assistance but nothing is done, the victim’s symptoms worsen (Szilassy et al., 2017). The victims start to notice a startling pattern that repeats itself. A victim will often seek medical care for a bodily injury. Even so, medical professionals will treat her symptoms, forcing her to seek additional assistance either because the underlying problem is not addressed or because she has sustained new injuries as a result of the abuse. As time passes, the sufferer will come to be seen as the root of the issue and will receive a variety of labels, including hysteric and crock (Szilassy et al., 2017).

The Value of Cooperation

The fight against domestic violence and child welfare has been found to be improved through cooperation amongst the various organizations involved in managing domestic violence, such as child welfare associations, juvenile courts, the police, and women’s rights advocates. The significance of this partnership has been emphasized in the majority of studies on the subject and is illustrated in the Greenbook project evaluation methodology (Antle et al., 2007).

Locating Practices that are Evidence-Based and Promising

Programs that are assessed with a focus on the success of the intervention program’s outcomes for the targeted victims are referred to as promising practices and evidence-based practices. The promising practices demonstrate effectiveness while being too new to have the degree of evidence necessary for them to become evidence-based practices, whereas the evidence-based programs demonstrate a more definitive proof level of the usefulness of the intervention program. It is crucial to search the evaluation networks and registers that are available if a program is attempting to introduce a new intervention for particular victims, and each registry should have the necessary thresholds for the evaluation of the chosen programs (Stanley, 2011).

Future free from violence

The Promising Futures initiative created a helpful tool that allows users to specify criteria like age, the language of program participants, and the type of intervention while looking for programs that can be used for kids who have been exposed to domestic abuse. The plans for a world without violence feature summaries that include details on the registries’ links and the amount of evidence that permits the evaluation of that evidence (Szilassy et al., 2017).

In conclusion, domestic violence has a long-term impact on a person’s life. Early domestic violence exposure will cause children to develop undesirable qualities that are related to the effects of domestic abuse. They might later turn violent themselves or experience domestic abuse. To prevent their kids from seeing them fight, parents must discover better ways to resolve disputes than violence. As the problem has not been addressed and domestic violence is still a problem in many households, the intervention approaches have fallen short of expectations. So, in order to completely eradicate domestic violence, it is imperative that better intervention techniques be created and that cooperation between the relevant organizations is improved.


Antle, B. F., Barbee, A. P., Sullivan, D., Yankeelov, P., Johnson, L., & Cunningham, M. R. (2007). The relationship between domestic violence and child neglect. Brief Treatment and Crisis Intervention. 7(4), 364.

Chang, J. J., Theodore, A. D., Martin, S. L., & Runyan, D. K. (2008). Psychological abuse between parents: Associations with child maltreatment from a population‐based sample. Child Abuse & Neglect. 32(8), 819–829.

Gellert, G. A. (2017). Confronting violence. Westview Press.

Howarth, E., Moore, T. H., Welton, N. J., Lewis, N., Stanley, N., MacMillan, H., … Feder, G. (2016). Systematic review of interventions for children exposed to domestic violence and abuse: Evidence from controlled trials. Retrieved from

Kernic, M. A., Wolf, M. E., Holt, V. L., McKnight, B., Huebner, C. E., & Rivara, F. P. (2003).

Behavioral problems among children whose mothers are abused by an intimate partner. Child Abuse and Neglect. 27, 1231–1246.

Ross, S. M. (2016). Risk of physical abuse to children of spouse abusing parents. Child Abuse and Neglect. 20, 589–598.

Sharpen, J. (2009). Improving Safety, Reducing Harm: Children, Young People and Domestic Violence; A Practical Toolkit for Front‐line Practitioners. The Stationery Office, London.

Stanley, N. (2011). Children Experiencing Domestic Violence: A Research Review. Research in Practice, Dartington.

Szilassy, E., Drinkwater, J., Hester, M., Larkins, C., Stanley, N., Turner, W., & Feder, G. (2017). Making the links between domestic violence and child safeguarding: An evidence‐based pilot training for general practice. Health & Social Care in the Community, 25(6), 1722–1732.


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Domestic Violence and the psychological impact on children

Domestic Violence and the psychological impact on children

Domestic Violence and the psychological impact on children

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