Domestic abuse not only adversely affects women on the receiving end, but it may also greatly affect their children. As a mother, you may be trying your best to shield your children from physical harm. But there are other factors you should consider. Children are a lot smarter and aware than we tend to notice. They are attuned to their surroundings. Please think carefully about the following ways children who live with domestic abuse may be affected.
They Become Fearful
Children who live with domestic abuse may become fearful of when the next attack may arise. They become worried about what may happen to their mother, their siblings and themselves. Their behaviour patterns may change as they attempt to process what is happening and why. This fear may also manifest itself in how they relate to their peers. They may be afraid to have a friend visit their home because they do not know what may happen. They may also be afraid to express themselves or their desires as they seek to avoid the wrath of the abuser. This may cause the child to be shy and withdrawn as they attempt to avoid the attention of the abuser. Even infants may be affected by domestic abuse. They may sleep poorly or cry inconsolably.
Their Performance At School Is Affected
Poor performance at school may occur as these children have much bigger concerns that they are ill-prepared to handle. A child living with domestic abuse may be more concerned about what mood daddy will be in rather than what a teacher is saying. They may have trouble sleeping well and this may affect their concentration at school. Poor attendance and skipping classes may also occur as they avoid anything that they perceive as threatening. This may be a teacher who is strict or a subject that is difficult.
They Develop Physical Side Effects
Children may develop physical side effects such as bed wetting, stomachaches or headaches. These side effects are impossible to control and may get them in trouble with the abuser. These physical side effects may be a result of their stressful situation and may be debilitating to their psyche. Unfortunately, it is hard to diagnose the cause of these illnesses because the child may be afraid to speak about their home experiences. Some children may develop speech impediments such as stuttering because they are so afraid to speak.
They Develop Guilt And Shame
Children of domestic abuse may consider themselves to be the cause of the abuse. This may happen if they overhear an argument where the abuser mentions them. It may also occur if they make a mistake. For example, spilling some juice and their father reacts with hostility towards them and their mother who tries to shield them. They may develop a deep sense of guilt that they are the cause of something they cannot control. They might be ashamed to tell anyone of what is happening as they perceive themselves as the reason.
They Behave Inappropriately
Teens may behave inappropriately because of being around domestic abuse. This type of behaviour includes bullying their peers, fighting and using coarse language because this is what they see at home. Younger children may exhibit these behaviours, but it may be more noticeable at this age and therefore easier to spot. With teens, it may be misconstrued that their acquaintances are the cause. Children may also come to believe that their mother and all women by extension are to be abused. This may make the boys become future abusers and the girls’ future victims of abuse because they believe this is how relationships are. They may also develop bad habits such as alcohol drinking, smoking or using drugs. They may have low self-esteem and as such have trouble making friends or being a part of social groups.
If you are a victim of domestic abuse who has children, you may want to consider getting help. Give yourself and your children a chance at happiness and being safe. If you need more information on domestic abuse, please pick up the book “Time To Go”. As always, please comment below about any thoughts or experiences you wish to share.