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Research Paper

Domestic violence is the act of physical, verbal, mental, and or emotional abuse

displayed to one or multiple persons that share a common relationship. Domestic violence is one

of the leading crimes in the United States today. I will be exploring how domestic violence

impacts a childs life and how the exposure will affect their adulthood.

Domestic violence effects kids in a number of ways including behaviorally and

emotionally. Children who witness domestic violence may feel fear, shame, anxious, guilt, and

anger. Some behavioral responses that a child may have includes acting out, anxiousness to

please and withdrawal. Also some children may show signs of loss of ability to concentrate and

anxiety which can result in poor school performance. Children who witness abuse may always be

on guard, waiting for an event to take place. (Violence against children) This makes children

worry for themselves, their siblings, and mother because they never feel safe. This could cause

them to feel helpless and useless. Majority of the children feel the need to hide the abuse;

keeping the family secret. (Violence against children) Due to chaotic households and difficult

lifestyles, they may blame themselves, believing that if they did not do or say a particular thing

the events wouldnt be occurring. Anger may be reflected towards the siblings or mother for

causing the abuse. Majority of children are attention hungry. They feel isolated and abandoned.

This cause children to be emotionally neglected.

Children who witness domestic violence are also more likely to be socially awkward.

Domestic violence hinders a childs social skills drastically. Normal social development can be

impaired. Children may tend to act younger than their age due to a subconscious state where they

feel safe and secure. (Domestic Violence) Also it can be a result from exposure to trauma that

harmed the brains development. Children who are exposed to domestic violence may also avoid
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closeness and push people away. They may also attached themselves to an outside source

creating an alternative secure base. (Domestic Violence) It has also been discovered that

domestic violence exposed children are not as likely to have many friends due to forming

relationships becomes difficult. In some childrens minds they feel as if others do not like them

due to what they see at home, therefore they tend to separate themselves from others and do not

like participating in group activities. The relationship between a child exposed to domestic

violence and social functioning has a positive correlation, but this doesnt mean every child

social functioning is affected.

Domestic violence will also effect a child long-term. Even though not all children are

physically abused, they still may suffer from psychological trauma. Children whom have grown

up watching their father abuse their mother might imitate their fathers actions in their own

relationships. They will use pressure and violence over others to get their way. Also due to

children are naturally attractive to strength, they may lose respect for their apparently helpless

mother. The abuser might play into this and put their mother down in front of the children using

words like dumb or worthless. Watching their mother being treated with so little respect

teaches them to disrespect woman as well. Children also pick up that violence is an effective way

to resolve problems. This may show up in their school, workplace, and future relationships. Most

experts believe that boys who watch their mother be abuse are more likely to abuse their partner

than boys who are raised in a non-violent home. (Bancroft and Silverman) For girls, experts

believe they are more likely to be in abuse relationships because they feel as if it is normal.

(Bancroft and Silverman) Studies show that children from violent households have a higher risk

of becoming an abuser of alcohol or drugs, suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

and depression. Witnessing domestic violence are one of the single best predictor for juvenile
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delinquency and adult criminality. (Bancroft and Silverman) It also is one the number one

reasons why children run away.

Lastly, a childs cognitive ability will be effected due to exposure. In the past 20 years

there has been a dramatic growth of our understanding of the harm domestic violence can cause

to children. They are also realizing the negative impact the exposure has on a childs brain

functioning and development. For instance, exposure to domestic violence can decrease a childs

IQ and influence the brains emotional system that can increase vulnerability to psychopathology.

(Baker and Campbell) There was a study that found that exposure to family violence was

associated with heightened neural activity in childrens brains similar to that of soldiers exposed

to violent combat situations. (Baker and Campbell) This study was the first to use a functional

magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) brain scan to see how domestic violence exposure effects a

childs neurological functioning. While the children were in fMRI, they were shown various

pictures of female and male faces that displayed different emotions. The researchers payed

attention to heightened activity in response to the pictures. The areas of the brain associated with

threat detection were activated only with exposed children who viewed pictures of angry faces,

implying that, similar to soldiers, children exposed to violence may have adapted to be

hypervigilant of potential danger in their surroundings. (Baker and Campbell) Moreover, these

particular brain areas have been associated with anxiety and may explain why children exposed

to domestic violence are at an increased risk of developing anxiety disorders in adulthood.

(Baker and Campbell)

In conclusions domestic violence has a powerful impact on childrens lives. Whether its

their emotional stability or cognitive ability children will be impacted if exposed to domestic

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Works Cited

Baker, L., and Campbell, M. (2012). Exposure to Domestic Violence and its Effect on
Childrens Brain Development and Functioning. Learning Network Brief (2). London,

Ontario: Learning Network, Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against

Women and Children.

Bancroft, Lundy, and Jay G. Silverman. "The Effects of Domestic Violence on Children."

Effects of Domestic Violence on Children. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Apr. 2017.

"Domestic Violence." Domestic Violence | National Child Traumatic Stress Network - Child

Trauma Home. N.p., 24 May 2010. Web. 26 Apr. 2017.

"Violence against children. How does domestic and family violence affect children and young

people?" 1800RESPECT. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Apr. 2017.