Children In Violent Homes
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:
Child Abuse in Violent Homes
- 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
The risk of child abuse is much higher when partner assault is reported.
Witnessing Parental Violence
- 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.
The Impact on Children
- 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 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.