The Negative Results Of Childhood Exposure To Domestic Violence

864 words - 3 pages

The phrase “domestic violence” typically refers to violence between adult intimate partners. It has been estimated that every year there are about 3.3 to 10 million children exposed to domestic violence in the confines of their own home (Moylan, Herrenkohl, Sousa et al. 2009). According to research conducted by John W. Fantuzzo and Wanda K. Mohr(1999): “[e]xposure to domestic violence can include watching or hearing the violent events, direct involvement (for example, trying to intervene or calling the police), or experiencing the aftermath (for example, seeing bruises or observing maternal depression)” (Fantuzzo & Mohr, 22). The effects of exposure can vary from direct effects such as behavioral and developmental issues to interpersonal relationships, all of which lead to detrimental prospects on the child’s development. This paper will explore those effects and how it affects children.
Exposure to violence in the first years of life brings about helplessness and terror which can be attributed to the lack of protection received by the parent. The child can no longer trust their parent as a protector (Lieberman 2007). This lack of trust early in life can bring about serious problems later in life, as there is no resolution to the first psychosocial crisis, trust vs. mistrust. For these children exposed to domestic violence, the imaginary monsters that children perceive are not only symbolic representations or a dream. The monsters that children who witness domestic violence have to deal with carry the reflection of their parents. Children who witness domestic violence face a dilemma because the children’s parents are at their most frightening exactly when the child needs them the most. The security of the child is shattered as their protector becomes the attacker in reality and the child has nowhere to turn for help (Lieberman 2007).
“Exposure to family and community violence is linked with aggressive behavior. One of the theoretical perspectives that explains this link is social learning theory, according to which children learn from the aggressive models in their environments. Additionally, victimization may compromise children's ability to regulate their emotions, and as a result they may act out aggressively” (Margolin & Gordis 2004, 153). “Posttraumatic stress symptoms and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are important consequences of exposure to violence because they can impair social and behavioral functioning” (Margolin & Gordis 2004, 153). Research has shown that children exposed to domestic violence demonstrate impaired ability to concentrate, difficulty with schoolwork, and significantly lower scores when their verbal, motor, and cognitive skills were being tested (Fantuzzo & Mohr). It seems as if the academic and cognitive difficulties from exposure affect the child possibly through...

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