Children That Grow Up In Domestic Violence

The question of what domestic violence is and its causes has been a question that for a long time has been begging answers, on its face, it is defined as the use of abusive ways by a partner in a relationship to gain control over the other partner. However, in its strict sense, it is the use of various ways not exactly physical by a partner in a relationship to the detriment of the other partner or family. According to Winkel, it is the use of means such as name calling, sexual assault, intimidation, physical abuse, withholding of money among other ways so as to make a partner look inferior in a relationship. In law, violence is criminal and acts of physical assault which may include hitting, shoving or sexual abuse which may include rape and stalking are punishable in law. Although other forms of abuse such as emotional and/or psychological abuse are criminal in nature, they may be catalysts of criminal offences. Statistics in the US indicate that between 3 & 4 million children ranging from 3- 17 are at a risk of domestic violence each year, 95% of the cases usually involve women who are victims of their male counterparts and this implies that the children to this women are exposed to the violence (Winkel). In my case I have been constantly exposed to the cases of violence appropriated to both my mother and I, over the years, I have been forced to come to terms with the daily happenings albeit disturbing., every time I see my dad, I develop phobia against him and as   a result, I am very fearful and anxious since I do not know what will happen next. Winkel states that children exposed to domestic violence are “always on guard, watching and waiting for the next event to occur”, he is of the opinion that the children never know what may be the next cause of the abuse and this creates a feeling of insecurity in the children, “they are always worried for themselves, their mother, and their siblings”.

Causes of Domestic Violence

Physiological Theory

There are varied theories used in explaining real cause of domestic violence.  For instance the physiological theory keenly focuses on the personality traits and the mental character of the offender. To many author personality disorders are factors and other abusive experiences while as child leads some people to remain violent at adult. The study reveals higher incidence of psychopathy among the abuser.  Environments were violence is either thought or accepted, creates the normal will that further imprints upon the child’s psyche (Chalk). The act of violence especially issues touching on domestic matters, more often is linked to poor self-esteem. This is adapted in to children as they grow up in violent homes. Children from this background are more likely to have little self-worth. They do engage much of their time in a pattern that is liked to negative self-talk. This part of the encounters that brings about isolation and frustration in it hidden anger developed due to inflicted filling of helplessness. At this stage anger marks the primary source, which further fuels the will fan, and thus increased flames of domestic violence. Use of drugs, for instance alcohol abuse may be one among many precursor of domestic violence. The drugs tend to have influence that is seen responsible for uncontrolled behaviour among its users. Most of the commonality cases among alcoholic families, accounts for poor emotional health, to certain extend this develops a secondary anger, which responsibly works as ineffective substitute in dealing honestly with emotions (Chalk).

Resource Theory

The resource theory explains dependant, in this theory the violent action takes place were women dependence on  the spouse for economic support, hence subjected to childcare, in this the fear of increased financial burden arises if they have to leave the marriage. The increased dependency creates narrowed options concerning resources to help them cope with the change witnessed. The spouse behaviour typically accounts for an increase frequency in domestic conflicts. Where individual experiences loss of physical health and wage earning-power, this mostly is brought out when victims faces the pressure of paying off bills, and this is initiated through inability to fully respond effectively to the required responsibilities. There are reported cases that reflect increased conflicts as a result of inflicted feeling of helplessness, the anger builds up making the offender inadequate coping with the involved mechanism, hence eruption of domestic violence. For spouse that share powers equally incidents of conflicts are reduced, if conflicts arise there are less likely to resort to violence ends. However, if one of the spouses assumes control and power in relationship, this might inflict increased spouse abuse, isolation, increased blames on each spouse, thus violent happenings (Chalk).

Behaviours Exhibited by Children Facing Family Violence

There are two major behaviours that children in abusive relationships will exhibit; these can be physical or emotional. Emotional behaviour may include the fear that their parents may kill themselves, they may feel guilty over a small thing that he/ she does. Many at times their is sleep disturbance since most fighting happen at night, the child is normally distracted by the noise from the fight; sadness is another habit, this is the mode that a child has to adopt due to fights that happen, depression and anger will also be exhibited because the child will not know what will happen next at any given time, failure to prevent violence in the family will multiply to emotional stress and unresolved anger (Johnson) Apart from emotional behaviour the child can also develop physical responses towards domestic violence, most of the children experience physical abuse as well as sexual abuse, and they can also be injured while trying to intervene on behalf of their mother or father which may lead to injury. Because children are so imitative they tend to practice what they see happen at their home to their fellow children, they will practice withdrawal and anxiousness to please as well as physical violence at the slightest provocation.  Many children experiencing domestic violence are very anxious to an extent that they cannot concentrate in class due to low attention span, resulting to poor performance in school. They sometimes use aggression and violence to express themselves which is not healthy for a child.

Long Term Effects of Domestic Violence

Consistent Violence

The long term effects of domestic violence may be very catastrophic; experts have it that most children who are raised in violent environments will have a tendency to solve problems through violence. They tend to repeat the same actions they witnessed while growing up thereby harming their peers. Krug argues that boys who have witnessed violence against their mothers are likely to abuse their female partners when they become adults as compared to boys who have grown up in peaceful homes. During adolescence, girls will tend to grow up believing that it is the norm in relationships to have threats and violence (Ascione).

Drug and Substance abuse

Drug abuse and alcoholism is another likely trend that children from violent homes will exhibit. Most children tend to indulge in alcoholism and substance abuse as a way of forgetting the abuse. According to Johnson witnessing domestic violence is “the single best predictor of juvenile delinquency and adult criminality. It is also the number one reason children run away”. Children who have witnessed domestic violence in their homes always have the belief that they are the reason for the abuse and therefore live in fear. In families where domestic violence is rife, there are very high chances of the occurrence of child abuse, according to the report child abuse is 15 times more likely to occur. This children use alcohol as an excuse to their wanton behaviours.

Physical Injury

Most often family violence takes different forms; it may be emotional, physical or psychological. Where there is physical abuse such as assault and battering, victims may suffer bruises, bodily injury such as broken limbs as well as death if care is not taken. Many victims of physical abuse are women and children since they are not strong enough to defend themselves as was my case.

Prevention of Domestic Violence

Prevention of domestic violence requires understanding the circumstances and factors that influence violence. According to experts from the Centre for Disease Control, there is a four level strategy that should be employed in order to prevent occurrence of violence. This is defined as a social ecological model that facilitates the better understanding of violence to and potential strategies for prevention. They argue that the model considers the complexity of the interplay between individual, community, relationship and societal factors, which further permits us to tackle the issues of risk and protective factors from a number of sources (Johnson). The four main levels for prevention of domestic violence are Individual-level influences, Relationship-level influences, Societal-level influences and community level.

Individual-level influences

According to the experts in CDC, personal history factors of an individual normally increase the chances of becoming an Intimate Partner Violence victim or perpetrator. For instance, the attitudes and beliefs about violence, experience of previous cases of violence and/or a family history of violence may contribute tremendously to the possibility of a continuous trend of violence; at this level prevention strategies are designed to enhance attitudes, behaviours and beliefs that support family unity and intimacy based on a symbiotic relationship that involves respect, trust and equality. These can be taught through education and life skills training so as to enhance a wholesome development of a society.

Relationship-level influences

There are also factors that increase risk of perpetration of domestic violence of the kind of relationship that exists between peers, family members and intimate partners. According to Krug, this is referred to as the relationship-level influences. An individual’s closest social circle – partners, peers and family members will greatly influence their behaviour as well as greatly contribute to their experiences. Parents are encouraged to offer good parenthood to their children by listening to their issues as well as making positive comments that will be a seed to a positive attitude to the children. At this level therefore, prevention strategies may include mentoring and peer programs designed to promote intimate partnerships based on mutual respect, equality, and trust.

Community Level

The third level of strategy is at the community level which aims at  examining the contexts in which social relationships are developed, this include places  such as such as schools, neighborhoods and workplaces, at this level, the strategy seeks to identify the specific features in these settings that are characteristic of  victims or the perpetrators of violence. At this level prevention strategies are meant to positively influence the processes, climate, and policies in a given situation. More often than not, awareness campaigns are used to foster a communal environment that will enhance intimate partnerships based on equality, trust and mutual respect (Krug).

Societal Level

Finally, there is the Societal-level which is a combination of larger, macro-level factors, among them religious factors, gender inequality, culture and beliefs orientation, a communities norms, as well as policies developed to influence the occurrence of violence, such policies may be economic or social. Normally, at this level collaborations by anti violence partners to inform and come up with socially accepted norms, policies, and legislations that support unity both in gender and economy so as to encourage intimate partnerships (Krug). Domestic violence is a serious problem all over the world. In order to prevent domestic abuse there are several things that you can do to make sure that this situation does not occur within your family. Furthermore, actions can also be taken to promote the prevention of domestic abuse on a wider scale in order to help those who are already suffering from this terrible issue. Exposure to good programming on the mass media channels will also go a long way in as far as prevention of domestic violence is concerned, Krug states that if children are exposed to “abusive” media such as action films and programmes like wrestling at a tender age, they are most likely going to be perpetrators of violence since it is what they got used to. Any shows on the radio and television that promote abuse should not be allowed. If already exposed to violence, as was my case then guiding and counseling would provide a safe landing to avoid further occurrences. A good counseling process will help in making an individual understand himself and get over the abuse he/she has been exposed to.

What is the link between reckless endangerment of a child and violence?

I choose this subject because it is quite fascinating. It focused on how many children or young adults in the world can grow up experiencing abuse and neglect and not lead a healthy life. Many kids around the world grow up to lead a life of violence, become mentally unstable, or traumatized due to parent’s mistreatment and emotional detachment. Knowing that there are many cases linking violence to child abuse or reckless endangerment, I want to know whether there is a link between childhood abuse and violent behavior among Kuwaiti youths. This subject comes up in several movies, yet I am not certain about the truth of the content. Although, I understand that the cases are different depending on the situation, in the end I’d like to find out if violence is mainly caused by a lack of parenting.

Domestic Violence on Children

Domestic violence can be described as the usage of physical power by one adult in order to control another adult or a child. Domestic violence against women is an old phenomenon; women have always been viewed as weak and vulnerable and thus, men could control them even if the last needed to use physical force to obtain this control (McCue). In order to end violence against girls and women, governments of some countries even compress domestic violence protection controls, which are supposed to give police an opportunity to act more quickly in critical situations. (Griffith). Domestic violence can be a result of certain imbalance that a man experiences in his life. However, there are also other factors that lead to domestic violence, such as psychological aspect, when men try to demonstrate their dominant role in the family by the means of physical force and abuses. However, one should remember that domestic violence has a crucial effect not only on women, but also on children.

One can outline the following reasons that may lead to such a phenomenon as domestic violence:

  • First of all, it is social dissatisfaction, which may have a reflection on a person`s family life. Men are usually perceived as strong, confident and successful human beings. A successful man has a good car, a big house and a job where he can earn enough money to buy everything he wants and not to worry about bills. This stereotype creates a special position of men in the society. However, if a man cannot achieve all these goals, he needs to work two shifts in order to pay the house rent and drive a car that he bought ten years ago; thus, he starts viewing himself as a person who gained nothing in this life. Despite the fact that the reaction of a woman on her husband’s problems may not be so dramatic, the latter may use violence against his wife in order to demonstrate that he is still a man and he controls the situation. Moreover, there are some cases when people who suffer from domestic violence are eager to abandon their independence to fulfill their physiological needs (Kaur & Garg). Constant fatigue, problems at work and increasing dissatisfaction with his life may lead to quarrels that overgrow into the usage of physical force in order to prove that the husband is always right.
  • The second reason is a psychological trauma or some mental disorders. At first glance, all family members may look happy and satisfied. A husband earns enough money and does not feel any social discomfort, his wife is an adequate woman who does not like to raise the devil and make her husband crazy. However, domestic violence still takes place in such a family, though there are no visible factors that can lead to it. In this case, one should take into consideration the husband’s childhood, his family and the environment in which he was growing up, relations among the members of his family, especially between his mother and father (Hornton). Children are very susceptible to everything they face during their development. Psychologists state that the relations between parents are often perceived as a norm by children. Hence, if a husband has never raised his voice to his wife, a child believes that this behavior is appropriate for every family. However, if the situation is absolutely opposite, a child will think that physical force may be used as an argument in a quarrel. According to this fact, the family model predetermines the child’s own viewing of the future family relations.
  • The third reason is directly connected to the previous one, but it is related to the wife’s perspective. As well as in the case of a male child`s development and growth, a female child also creates certain norms of what a family should be. For instance, if a mother does not respond to father’s verbal or even physical abuses and views, a daughter believes that it is really a kind of social norms. In her consciousness, a man, who plays the role of a husband, has an absolute power over a woman (Johnson). In other words, a husband is always right, even when he uses violence towards his wife. Hence, when a daughter becomes an adult woman, she does not contradict her husband when he behaves unethically towards her and turns a blind eye when he uses physical strength to prove his rightness. This phenomenon can be called as wife’s submission, when a woman accepts the abnormal behavior of her husband as a standard of family life.

Women are not the only who suffer from their husbands. Children represent another category which is left unprotected; though sometimes women are able to stand up to their husbands’ violence, children are rather often vulnerable to it. Aggression of men towards their own children has a lot in common with violence against wives, though there are some specific features which differentiate them. Every husband feels responsibility for his children, especially for their development, education and interests. The conflicts between parents and children exist and can be often found in a psychological practice. Every generation has a need to disagree; thus, parents and children often cannot find a common language, especially when children reach the teenage stage of development. Some parents believe that punishment is one of the educational methods that can be applied towards their children. Indeed, such punishments as grounding or not giving pocket money are acceptable, but the usage of physical force can be hardly approved by psychologists as an effective educational approach. Fathers often want their sons to be strong, brave and confident. According to this fact, they believe that the usage of physical punishment will make the son a real man in future because life is a hard thing and he should learn how to cope with difficulties since the childhood. Another reason is the usage of grandfather’s methods of education. One hundred years ago the relations between fathers and sons were stricter and less gentle. Some fathers still use the same methods as an effective educational tool.

Domestic violence is inappropriate behavior and neither woman, nor children should accept it.

First of all, a person who suffers from domestic violence should remember that he/she is an individual who may have his/her own views, believes or life position and no one can physically harm him/her. The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 is the main argument that a woman may use to protect herself from her husband`s unethical behavior. According to this fact, domestic violence is a crime and a husband may be condemned if his wife presses the charges against him (Kenney).

The second solution is less radical; a family psychologist can be consulted in order to solve the problems that arise in a family and lead to domestic violence. The specialist may help in solving the problems that often cause quarrels and lead to violence. If a husband refuses to visit a family psychologist, a wife may use the first solution as an effective argument to make her husband change his mind.

Taking into consideration all the above mentioned factors and information concerning domestic violence, one can be sure that children are very vulnerable. First and foremost, physical abuse in a family forms a child`s perception regarding an appropriate family model. Therefore, domestic violence can lead to various problems in the future when a child grows up and has his or her own family. Besides, it may happen that when a child watches his mother being abused by his father or even the child him/herself is being abused, he or she becomes nervous. As a result of such condition, the child may start suffering from various physical and mental diseases, like depressions, bipolar disorder, etc. Due to constant domestic violence, a child may become very secluded and asocial. Moreover, there is a crucial possibility that such child will become an abuser in the future.

The relationship between childhood abuse and violent behavior among youths

The abuse of children in Kuwait is rarely brought into a conversation according to Dr Nicholas Scull, the Director of clinical and Psychological Services at the Fawzia Sultan Rehabilitation Institute to the Arab times. Since most kids are supervised by adults other than their parents like nannies, it can present real challenges to working parents. The National Center for Biotechnology Information stated that the Pediatrics Departments at Al-Amiri Hospital and Mubarak Al-Kabeer Hospital in Kuwait posted an article that said (Child abuse in Kuwait: problems in management). Their objective was to find out the rate of child abuse in Kuwait and assess the challenges associated with its management. An analysis of 60,640 medical records of children treated at Al-Amiri and Mubarak Al-Kabeer Hospitals in Kuwait, between 1991 and 1998 was carried out. The result showed that, ou of the 60,640 records 16 children gave evidence of abuse. Of these cases, 75% of the cases were caused by parents, which revealed the following abuses: 13 physical; 2 were sexually caused, and one with Munchausen syndrome by proxy. Children that had physical abuse and more than one type of bruise composed of 77%. 23% were those with burns and (38%), included those with intracranial hemorrhage were. Those that had fractures were (23%) while those with cut wounds were (15%). Seven children out of all reported cases were returned to their biological parents. Those lost to follow-up amounted to 7 while 2 children succumbed to death. This resulted in the conclusion that child abuse exists in Kuwait and is under reported.

Management itself is not ideal, but Legislation is also crucial. Many parents in Kuwait use physical punishment as a measure to discipline their children; it is not that parents do it deliberately; they do it because it is commonly used in most Arab countries to shape up the child, although some parents take it too far (Kumaraswamy). As soon as most children in Kuwait are born they are usually left with nannies or maids to take care of them. Some parents rarely spend time with their children, which results in feeling of neglect by their parents (Apfel & Simon). These things could lead to long term mental instability that can cause the child could grow up becoming violent, damaging their sense of self, the ability to have healthy relationships, and the capability to function at home, at work or at school (Apfel & Simon). Additionally, neglect of children and lack of protection can cause children to be fearful, cause anxiety and a lot of nightmares. Those children can also opt to be lone rangers to avoid people which ultimately cause depression and sadness (Byman & Green). Most of these consequences according to Langley are long lasting especially if they do not get treated.

Conclusion and Recommendations

According to Johnson, Domestic violence is a major problem facing about 3.3 million children ever year in the United States, its consequences affect children in many ways, children subjected and exposed to domestic violence stand a risk of developing behavioral problems. As a child grows the trauma that they experience as witnesses of family violence play a very important role in their growth and subsequent physical well being. These children stand a very high risk of developing physical, behavioral, and social problems, as well as emotional problems. Children from such families more often than not develop conflicting feelings of distrust and affection towards the abusive parent; they also become overprotective of the victim. Being a firsthand victim of domestic violence, I strongly recommend that the state should come up with strict legislation that will protect the children and generally families exposed to violence. I further recommend that children exposed to domestic violence should be exposed to a safe nurturing environment so as to encourage a healthy development. Caregivers should reassure the children as well as increase sense of security through taking the children step by step in explaining things that worry the children as well as comforting them. Finally, all family members should be more involved in assisting families facing domestic violence.

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