Most people fail to realize the affect Domestic Violeence has on the children involved. Even our social services professionals fail to see children living in these homes are constantly being affected by toxic stress.
Toxic stress is a term used by psychologists and developmental neurobiologists to describe the kinds of experiences, particularly in childhood, that can affect brain architecture and brain chemistry. They typically are experiences that are bad for an individual during development such as severe abuse.
Yet, witnessing the servere abuse of a parent is often not considered abuse? In this I am afraid the poem Children Learn What They Live may be true. This kind of abuse can lead children to one of two conclusions. Either you can be the abuser or be abused. The erratic behavior of the abusers leaves everyone in their sphere frightened of the next time anger and violence will erupt. Which leads children living in an unstable, chaotic, and toxic environment. Many victims who eventually find the courage to leave their abusers finally do so for the greater needs of the safety and protection of the children.
Many children who have lived in homes with domestic violence need to be treated for abuse as well. The helplessness, fear, and anxiety which plagues children who suffered child abuse are also the same issues these children suffer from, witnessing abuse. Make no mistake children who live in homes where abuse happens have the hidden scars of abuse.
I would go so far as saying children who have lived in homes where domestic violence is prevalent are emotionally abused. There is a term used for it called Complex Trauma. Complex Traumadescribes both children’s exposure to multiple traumatic events, often of an invasive, interpersonal nature, and the wide-ranging, long-term impact of this exposure.
It is between the ages of 3-5 where children are heavily focused on learning the roles of male and female. A child is extremely vulnerable at this age of learning the abuser either male or female is expected to act this way. Many adults who grew up in abusive homes may find themselves repeating these roles or attempting to live these roles because they are conditioned to them. This is why many programs in shelters for abuse victims have child focused programs. However, I believe we need many more folks to help these families. Children who have lived in these homes need to talk about, learn, and internalize the true roles of healthy men and women. Also, they need to observe healthy relationships.
Parents who have suffered abuse are often great parents. They know what their children have been through and work very hard to give themselves and their children healthy, peaceful environments in which to live. I believe the community can better support these families by reaching out to single parent families. You do not need to know their circumstances to invite them to your barbecue, on a picnic, or on a trip to the Zoo. As a fellow parent you can simply include them, allowing to join, your traditional, blended or mixed up family. Allowing them to experience true friendship and support. This can be your service to helping and supporting victims of Domestic Violence. Parent to Parent.