EFFECTS OF DOMESTIC ABUSE ON CHILDREN
The impact of gender violence against children, in particular domestic abuse, is very harmful.
Children are always affected by abuse against their mother and may become, in their turn, victims of the aggressor who, in most of the cases, is their biological or stepfather.
The results of the study conducted by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) outlines a link between acts of abuse suffered in childhood and the risk of becoming victims/aggressors when growing up. In order to end the cycle of violence, it is essential to support children who face or who witness acts of domestic abuse against their mother. (information taken over from WAVE study, “Away from Violence: Guidelines for Setting up and Running a Refuge” (2004), p. 10-14)
Moreover, children may be directly affected by domestic violence, by being submitted to a similar act of abuse. Their personality may suffer profound modifications further to domestic violence they lived as children: boys face a higher likelihood of becoming aggressors and girls of becoming victims.
It is essential that they benefit from support in order to deal with the experience of violence and in order to understand that a life of terror and abuse is not normal.
SYMPTOMS OF CHILDREN EXPOSED TO VIOLENCE:
- Sleep disorders and food disorders
- Speech disorders
- Behavioural disorders: aggressive behaviour towards colleagues, friends, teachers or passivity to other people’s aggressive behaviour
- Depression, anxiety, introversion, fear of abandonment, fear of injuries and of death
- Learning and socializing difficulties in school
- Suicidal thoughts or attempts.
Children raised in families where verbal or physical violence is present learn that, by violence, you may obtain what you want, you may impose your standpoint and make the others listen to you. Men who punish women are shown as real males, who know how to be confident, who do not express their feelings and are always listened to and respected.
In a family affected by aggressive behaviours, children live in an environment in which their need for safety, emotional security are deeply altered. Instead of parental authority, such home hosts terror which does not educate, does not form a balanced adult and which may stop the normal mental and emotional development of the child.
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