Children are the lost victims of domestic abuse. I receive emails from women who are living with domestic abuse in their marriage that are full of pain over what is being done to them. There is an internal conflict exhibited by the women I hear from…”do I leave him, do I stay?”
Very rarely do I hear from a woman who takes into consideration how the domestic abuse is impacting their children. I can understand the trauma that comes along with being abused and the possibility that such trauma can keep a woman from considering every aspect of the situation she is in. Yes, I suppose it is easy to forget that children in the home are victims of abuse also and should be the first consideration when deciding whether to leave an abuser or stay.
Domestic abuse affects more than 3 million children a year. It is safe to say that if a marriage has produced 2 or 3 children then the number of children affected by domestic abuse is greater than the number of women. We know the effects of domestic abuse on the victim but, what about children, the innocent victims who have no say in whether their mother stays or leaves?
How Domestic Abuse Damages Children:
- Seventy five percent of boys present when their mothers are being abused develop behavioral problems are at an increased risk of becoming abusers themselves.
- Children from homes where they are exposed to domestic abuse are more likely to suffer psychological problems as compared to children who are not exposed to domestic abuse.
- More than 50% of children exposed to domestic abuse in the home suffer from anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder.
- Children exposed to domestic abuse in the home have lower IQ scores, poorer language skills and problems with attention, focus and memory.
- Depression and PTSD are common amongst adults who were raised in homes where domestic abuse happened.
- Females who are exposed to their parents’ domestic abuse as adolescents are more likely to become victims of dating violence than daughters of nonviolent parents.
- Children, who witness domestic abuse, are at a greater risk of having serious health problems as adults including tobacco use, substance abuse, obesity, cancer, heart disease, depression and a higher risk for unintended pregnancy.
- Children in homes where domestic abuse occurs are physically abused or seriously neglected at a rate 1500% higher than the national average in the general population. Ten million children witness domestic violence each year in the US.
If you are a man or woman living in a marriage where domestic abuse occurs I urge you to not only consider your own needs when deciding whether to leave an abusive marriage but the needs of your children also.
Mothers and fathers, especially those who are being abused are often the strongest protector of their children. Abused women and men have consistently shown how vigilant they are when it comes to protecting their children from the abuser. Regardless of how much effort a parent puts into protecting his/her child research shows that growing up in an abusive home can be traumatic and have life-long negative effects on children.
The only true protection a child has from the harm of domestic abuse is a safe, stable environment to grow up in.