Children of all ages living in homes in which violence is endemic can be seriously affected:
Infants growing up in an environment of abuse are reactive to their environment and when distressed, they can be irritable,cry for long periods, refuse to feed or settle, and become withdrawn and emotionally unresponsive.
Toddlers can often exhibit aggressive behaviours such as hitting, and biting as well as social issues such as severe shyness, low self-esteem and frequent illness.
Children aged 2 to 7 are naturally egocentric and will interpret violence or abuse occurring in the home as their fault. Studies
have suggested that preschool boys, living in violent homes, have the highest rates of aggressive behaviours and the most serious somatic issues of any age group.
Primary school children begin to learn that violence is an appropriate way of resolving conflict. They can also have difficulties with school work. These children learn to be on high alert for any sign of changes in behaviour and this is not just at home. Being constantly hypervigilant about the next threat can have an adverse affect on learning. They can also suffer from psychosomatic illnesses such as nausea, headaches and abdominal pain.
Adolescents often see violence as their parents' problem and they regard the victim as being responsible. Many adolescent boys who experience violence in their home go on to use violence as a method of resolving conflict both in their relationships and interactions with their peers. Ongoing conflict between parents has a profound influence on adolescent development and future adult behaviour and can be the strongest predictor of violent delinquency.
(James 1994 in Protective Behaviours: Domestic Violence).
THE DEVASTATING CYCLE
FORMS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE:
1. Physical or sexual violence
2. Using coercion and threats - making and/or carrying out threats to hurt her; threatening to leave her, to commit suicide, to report her to welfare; making her drop charges; making her do illegal things.
3. Using intimidation - making her afraid by using looks, actions, gestures; smashing things; destroying her property; abusing pets; displaying weapons.
4. Using emotional abuse - putting her down; making her feel bad about herself; calling her names; making her think she's crazy; playing mind games; humiliating her; making her feel guilty.
5. Using isolation - controlling what she does, who she sees and talks to, what she reads, where she goes; limiting her outside involvement; using jealousy to justify actions.
6. Minimizing, denying and blaming - making light of the abuse and not taking her concerns seriously; saying the abuse didn't happen; shifting responsibility for abusive behaviour; saying that she caused it.
7. Using children - making her feel guilty about the children; using children to relay messages; using visitation to harass her; threatening to take the children away.
8. Using male privilege - treating her like a servant; making all the big decisions; acting like "the master of the castle"; being the one to define men's and women's roles.
9. Using economic abuse - preventing her from getting or keeping a job; making her ask for money; giving her an allowance; taking her money; not letting her know about or have access to family income.
(Domestic Abuse International Project, www.duluth-model.org)
The Impact of Domestic Violence
Domestic Violence can be defined as '... an abuse of power perpetrated mainly by men against women both in relationships and after separation. It occurs when one partner attempts physically or psychologically to dominate the other. The most commonly acknowledged forms of violence are physical and sexual violence, threats and intimidation, emotional and social abuse and economic deprivation (Australian Law Reform Commission and New South Wales Reform Commission 2010).
THE LEADING CAUSE OF HOMELESSNESS AMONG WOMEN AND CHILDREN IN AUSTRALIA IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
ONE IN THREE
WOMEN AROUND THE WORLD WILL EXPERIENCE PHYSICAL OR SEXUAL ABUSE IN THEIR LIFETIME
MORE THAN 10,000
CHILDREN ARE AFFECTED BY DOMESTIC VIOLENCE EACH YEAR IN AUSTRALIA