Effects of Abuse: Children as Secondary Victims

According to the UN World Report on violence against children, an estimated 133-275 million children worldwide witness violence at home. Studies have shown a wide variety of psychological and developmental problems which affect children who have witnessed regular violence at home. Responses to violence will vary with age and personality. Some children will react immediately to the trauma. Others will experience the most difficulty as older teenagers and young adults.

Kids, especially the young ones, are deeply influenced by what they see and hear on a regular basis. Children are impressionable. Their social skills will often reflect the relationship their parents have with one another. Their understanding of normalcy in relationships will also be affected by how mum and dad interact with each other and with the child.

Just because a child grows up in a home where domestic violence is present does not mean they are doomed to continue the cycle of abuse with their own family one day. When my parents were going through pre-marital counseling, they were told not to have children. Why? Because my grandfather had been abusive and so, naturally, my father would be, as well. Despite witnessing and experiencing violence for his entire childhood, my father was never abusive toward my mum, myself, or my younger brother. He certainly had to be mindful of tendencies he had picked up from his own father but he was purposeful in ending the cycle.

If your children have been witnesses to abuse, it’s best that you understand the possible effects. You can help them break the cycle in their own lives. Your kids are not doomed to exhibit the same violent tendencies they’ve seen in their father or mother.

Link to “The Youngest Victims of Domestic Violence”
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