The dramatic rise in the number of domestic violence cases being reported, has captured the eye of psychiatrists around the world. However, it is not the psychologists who deal with domestic violence that are taking notice. Child psychologists are raising a flag in hopes that they can drop the amount of domestic violence that children see on a regular basis. New studies have proved that children who witness domestic violence are more prone to developing behavioral problems and mental disorders of their own.
Emotional and behavioral problems
Extensive studies have been completed proving that children who are witness to domestic violence, especially if they witness it on a regular basis, are more prone to developing behavioral and emotional delays. These children are noted to be more aggressive, and fail to socialize with their peers. Others develop anxiety disorders and show fearful behaviors under situations that would not normally cause anxiety.
Children who live in, or have come from homes where domestic violence was prominent, have lower self-esteem and are more likely to develop a criminal record, lower academic scores, and may even fail to attend college, due to their lack of competence in dealing with the world around them.
Cognitive functioning and emotional development
Children who witness domestic violence on a regular basis have proved to exhibit a lower level of cognitive functioning than other children their age. These children also show a higher rate of incarceration before and after the age of 18.
The problems that these children face can easily extend into adulthood, which dramatically reduces their quality of life. Many of these children develop depression, symptoms of PTSD, and extremely low self-esteem. They are also more likely to enter into relationships that are violent in some manner.
Living in constant fear
Children who witness domestic violence are more likely to live in constant fear, and constantly be on guard in every situation. This is because they do not know what will trigger a nearby adult, or child, to fly into a violent rage. These children also have a very short attention span, lower grades and poor school attendance.
The long term effects of domestic violence can be very difficult to overcome. Many of these children do not seek help until they are an adult, and their life is out of control.
Getting treatment as an adult
While seeking help as an adult is a positive step in their lives, there has already been an extensive amount of damage done. For many people, even extensive therapy does not allow them to live a normal life. Many live with lifelong scars and still feel the constant fear.
Adults who come from families where domestic violence is present constantly fight against the mentality they had as a child. Because of the built-up anger, and the way they were raised, most of these adults move in and out of relationships because they cannot adequately deal with emotional problems associated with a relationship, or the trials that are faced in a relationship. Others turn to violence themselves, which starts a cycle that is difficult to break.