Violence and Children
Domestic Violence is defined as any violent or abusive behavior (whether physical, sexual, psychological, emotional, verbal, financial, etc.) which is used by one person to control and dominate another with whom they have or have had relationship with. Every year, thousands of women are victimized at the hand of an intimate partner, making domestic violence one of the major crimes against women in the United States. Despite the high rate of violence against women and the recent attention to the physical and emotional consequences of this abuse, until recently relatively little attention had been given to the unseen victims – the children. More than half the female victims of domestic violence live in a household with children under the age of 12 (United States Department of Justice – Violence by Intimates, 2000). Although estimates vary greatly, some research indicates that two – ten million children witness domestic violence each year in the United States (Rossman, Hughes, & Rosenberg, 2000). Because children exposed to domestic violence may not necessarily be direct victims of abuse, they may be overlooked by helping professionals and, therefore their potential problems related to witnessing the abuse go unnoticed. Ignoring the consequences of exposure to violence on children can negatively impact their cognitive development as well as their emotional and physical health. Children exposed to domestic violence may be impacted in a variety of ways. Effects might be direct or indirect and one must consider prevention, intervention, and mediating factors. Exposure may increase negative externalizing behavior, increase risk of aggressive behavior, cause anxiety and depression, lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or perpetuate the cycle of violence by increasing the probability that the child will grow up to be a perpetrator or victim of domestic violence. It is important to understand...
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