Domestic violence is a social problem that affects individuals, families, and the communities in which they live. The public awareness and understanding of domestic violence has greatly increased over the last few decades. This knowledge has illuminated the prevalence of families suffering in violent environments. This new understanding has given rise to many resources, agencies and services designed to combat the harmful and lasting affects of domestic violence and to give aid to its victims.
Domestic Violence: What is it? Who does it affect?
Domestic violence is physical or sexual assault, which occurs between two people in a relationship (domesticviolence.org, 2009). Examples of personal relationships that may be affected by domestic violence include married, not married, dating, living together, gay and lesbian (domesticviolence.org, 2009). It's important to remember that victims aren't only women, but men as well. Men that are abused by female or male partners suffer the same debilitating affects.
The victims of domestic violence are not only the battered men and women who endure it but also the children who witness it. A report by Low and Mulford (2012) estimated that approximately 30 percent of children will witness domestic violence at some point in their lives. Furthermore, the negative impact of domestic violence on these children will likely cause development problems in one or more of the following areas: social, emotional, cognitive and/or behavioral (pg 1).
The negative affects of witnessing domestic violence can vary depending on the age of the child.
Behaviors associated with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that infants may demonstrate such as:
"Sleep disturbances, night terrors, separation anxiety, aggressiveness, hyperactivity, emotional detachment, constriction, exaggerated startle response, and dissociation" (Buchanan, Power, Verity, 2012, p.1821).
Multiple behaviors demonstrated by preschool age children (age 2-5):
"Hyper-arousal, aggressive behavior, avoidant behavior, and developmental regression...clinically significant anxiety, depression, and posttraumatic tress...separation anxiety, sleep disturbances, changes in eating patterns and toileting regression" (Herman-Smith, 2013, p. 232).
School age children and adolescents may experience, peer difficulties, depression, under developed verbal skills and higher levels of aggression (Holt, Buckley, Whelan 2008).
Domestic Violence: Services and Policies
Many services are offered through domestic violence programs and various shelters available throughout the country. Many of these programs include emergency shelters, but sadly, funding cut backs have reduced the amount of shelters available. In 2012, a study conducted by the National Network to End Domestic Violence found that 6,818 requests for housing from domestic violence victims were unmet (NNDEV, 2012, p. 3). Non-shelter services include: counseling, group...