Children are often the unintended victims of battering. Children in violent homes face dual threats - witnessing traumatic events and the threat of physical assault. Children of abused parents may:
Be injured during an incident of parental violence
Be traumatized by fear and their own helplessness in protecting the parent
Blame themselves for not preventing the violence or believe they are the cause
Be abused or neglected themselves
Child Abuse in Violent Homes
The risk of child abuse is much higher when partner assault is reported.
Nearly half of those who abuse their partners also abuse their children
Nationally, 75% of battered victims say their children were also battered. Another study found that 1/3 of families reporting a violent incident between the parents also reported the presence of child abuse.
Witnessing Parental Violence
Over 3 million children are at risk of exposure to parental violence each year
Children from violent families can provide clinicians with detailed accounts of abusive incidents their parents never realized they witnessed
The Impact on Children
The damage inflicted by living in a home with severe parent-to-parent violence is often overlooked. The immediate impact of this exposure can be traumatic, fear for self, fear for their parent's safety and self-blame.
The range of problems among children who witness parental abuse includes psychosomatic disorders such as stuttering, anxiety, fear, sleep disruption and problems in school
Children older than 5 or 6 have a tendency to identify with the aggressor and lose respect for the victim
Older children, especially males, may hurt or even kill the abuser in an attempt to protect the abused parent
Over a long period of time, exposure to violence may lead to later violence on the part of the child - as well as to other serious emotional and behavioral problems
Violence witnessed at home is often repeated later in life. Violent parental conflict has been found in 20-40% of the families of chronically violent adolescents. Behavioral problems can be found in 75% of boys who witnessed parental abuse.
Child and adult victims of abuse are more likely to commit violent acts outside the family than those not abused. Abused children are arrested 4 times more, and have a history of delinquency.