Category: Domestic violence

The Effects on Children due to Exposure to Domestic Violence

If you do a search on Google – you will find plenty of references to the effects on children due to witnessing domestic violence.  However, I can’t stress enough how seriously people need to take this.

One of the tools my husband would use as a way to make me stay in the abusive relationship was to use my children as “bait.”  He would tell me how detrimental it would be for the kids not to have 2 parents.  He would tell me that he was going to take my kids away from me if I tried to leave.  That I would never see them again, and that he would convince everyone I was a bad parent.  After all – I didn’t have any PROOF that he was abusing me, so it would be my story over his – and they would believe him instead of me.    I believed him, and one of the factors that convinced me to stay time after time is my worry that it would I was doing more to keep my kids “safe” by staying with him, then I would if I tried to leave and he was successful in gaining custody.   The kids were scared enough that they would never have told the truth, and both he and I knew it.

Although I understood it couldn’t be healthy for the children to be exposed to that amount of violence – I had no idea at the time, of how truly detrimental it was for them.

Now, I understand that being a witness to such abuse was as damaging to them as it was to me, as the one to whom the violence was directed.  In fact – allowing a child to be a witness – is in and of itself considered child abuse.  Thanks to a lot of therapy for both me and my children, I finally understand the effect that this has on children, and my children are no exception.  Both of my children have special needs and behavioral/emotional struggles.

Of course, I can’t say that the abuse is the ONLY reason that they have these struggles.  After all, I have children who were in a 3rd world orphanage and experienced extreme poverty, the loss of their biological parents, and trans-racial adoption.  However – I absolutely believe that they would have been better prepared to deal with those issues  and to work through them a lot better/faster – if they had grown up in a loving, peaceful home where they had parents who they felt secure and safe with.   Living in fear and a home where violence was the norm has complicated and added to any of the struggles we would have had associated with the adoption.

Both my children deal with stress and anger by lashing out in very unhealthy ways.   My daughter has been diagnosed with depression, anxiety, PTSD, and attachment disorder.  She is very violent with everyone except her father (she knows, and has said, that her life would be in danger if she did so). She has spent several years not only struggling with these issues; but also trying her hardest to “take care of” her father and protect him.  She came to believe that was her “job” and that maybe if she did it good enough; her father wouldn’t be violent anymore.  She is only now beginning to trust me and other adults to keep her safe( and to keep myself safe) – and because of that she is starting to open up .

My son is almost a teenager now and displays a very strong view of women being the “weaker” sex and not to be respected.  As he grows older, he takes on more and more of his father’s abusive behavoirs.  It has been 2 1/2 years since he has witnessed any physical violence – and 1 1/2 years since he witnessed verbal threats by his father to me.  However, because of many years of seeing his father act in this way, he now considers this to be a sign of a strong man, and tries to emulate it.

I want to write this post for all the women out there who think that staying with an abusive partner is “better for the children.”  No, it is not.  Divorce is hard on kids.  Living in 2 seperate households is hard on kids – but living in a home with violence is infinitely more so.  And, the longer it is allowed to go on – the more devastating the effects it will have on the children.  There doesn’t have to be physical abuse – verbal/emotional is just as damaging.  We need to stand up for ourselves as well as our children!

Remember – you don’t have to live this way – and your children don’t either.  Many times you can get a restraining order that will also protect your children from your abusive partner.  And, as I said earlier – domestic violence is considered child abuse – even when the child is NOT the one the abuse is being directed towards.  Don’t believe it if your partner is threatening you with taking away your children, and don’t let it be another reason to stay in the relationship.


Abuse: It’s All About Power and Control.  I saw this post which included the “Power and Control” wheel of Domestic Abuse and wanted to share.