Home is the first place where a child is supposed to get unconditional love, care, kindness and safety. But not all families can assure a safe haven for kids at home. Children who become victims of domestic violence or witness domestic violence are at serious risk of physical and mental health problems. The impacts of direct and indirect domestic violence on children can be both short-term and long-term.
Like other common occurrences across the country, domestic violence is an uncomfortable feature of Bangladesh as well as in many other countries. Research has shown that about 10 million people are affected by incidents of domestic abuse annually. This number will also increase if we consider the silent victims- children. A study in 2010 shows that 1 in fifteen children was exposed to cases of intimate partner violence and 1 in 3 also experienced acts of violence. Let’s explore here the consequence of domestic violence on children.
What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence also known as domestic abuse or family violence is a kind of violence or abuse that occurs in a domestic setting. It is also called intimate partner violence, which is committed by one of the people in an intimate relationship against the other person. Domestic violence relates to violence against children, parents, or the elderly in various forms such as physical, verbal, emotional, economic, religious, reproductive, or sexual abuse.
How can domestic violence affect children physically and mentally?
When a child is abused or tortured directly by a family member or intimate partner that includes physical, sexual, psychological, or economic violence, it is called direct domestic violence.
Short-term effects of direct domestic violence on children
Children who are the victims of domestic violence may feel fearful and anxious. This can cause short-term effects on them so they react in different ways depending on their age:
Effects of domestic abuse on preschool children
Young children who experience domestic violence generally start doing things they naturally do at a young age like bed-wetting, thumb-sucking, increased crying and whining. Most often they may show signs of terror like mumbling or hiding. They may also show signs of severe separation anxiety.
Impacts of domestic violence on School-aged children
School-aged children often feel guilty about the abuse and blame themselves for it. Domestic violence hurts children’s self-esteem and so they always feel annoyed with everything and may not participate in school activities. Usually, they can't achieve good grades at school. Generally, the victimised kids have fewer friends than others. They might face trouble in making new friends or socialising. Most often they suffer from headaches and stomachaches.
Implications of family abuse on Teens
Domestic violence affects teens in negative ways, for example fighting with family members or bouncing school. The abused tenagers may engage themselves in risky behaviors like having unprotected sex and using alcohol or drugs.
Besides, they have trouble making friends. They usually start fights with others and most importantly get in trouble with the law. These types of behaviors are widely seen in teen boys who are abused in childhood compared with the abused teen girls.
How watching domestic violence can affect a child's mental health?
When a child witnesses the abuse of their mothers, fathers, or other family members, this is called indirect domestic violence. This may affect a child psychologically, emotionally and even physically. Watching family abuse may create negative influences on children both in short terms and long terms.
Short-term effects of indirect domestic violence on children
Check below some of the quick effects that children usually experience after witnessing domestic violence.
Children tend to remain in horror if they see abuse of one parent by the other. They feel insecure at home as they remain scared of the next physical or verbal assault. If domestic abuse between parents or among other family members frequently occurs at home, it can create a state of perpetual anxiety in children.