Introduction to Domestic Violence
Domestic violence occurs when one person tries to dominate and control another
person in a family like or domestic relationship. domestic violence involves an
abuse of power and can take a form of:
- physical violence
- sexual violence
- emotional or psychological abuse
- verbal abuse
- stalking and intimidation
- social and geographic isolation
- financial abuse
- cruelty to pets
- damage to property
- threats to be violent in these ways.
Domestic violence usually features a repeating pattern of behaviour with the
dominant purpose of controlling the other person. The major impact is fear.
Domestic violence is predominately perpetrated by men against women. However,
women can be perpetrators of violence in both heterosexual and LGBTIQ
relationships. Forced marriage, when a person gets married without freely
consenting because they have been coerced, threatened or deceived is another
form of domestic violence, as is reproductive coercion where control or pressure
is used to determine contraception or pregnancy outcomes.
Defining Domestic Violence and Children’s Exposure to
The term “domestic violence
” typically refers to violence between adult intimate
One clinical source defines domestic violence as a pattern of assaultive an
coercive behaviors, including physical, sexual, and psychological attacks, as
well as economic coercion, that adults or adolescents use against their intimate
By contrast, a model code on domestic and family violence limits its
definition to acts of physical harm, including involuntary sexual acts, or the
threat of physical harm. Investigators have usually studied children from
violent families that are characterized by multiple stressors (e.g., histories
of drug and alcohol abuse, single parenting, shelter residence, and poverty) and
multiple forms of maltreatment (i.e., neglect, sexual abuse, spouse abuse, and
child abuse; Aber & Cicchetti, 1984. This study was also designed to identify
the distinctive effects of experiencing different types of domestic violence.
Children who are victims of physical abuse are more likely to display
externalizing and internalizing behavior problems than children from comparison
groups (Aber, Allen, Carlson, & Cicchetti, 1989; Hughes, 1988; Jaffe et al.,
Crimes (Domestic and personal violence) act 2007
Section 9 Objects of Act in relation to domestic violence
In enacting this Act, Parliament recognizes:
- Domestic violence is predominantly perpetrated by men against women and children
- Domestic violence extends beyond physical violence and may involve the
exploitation of power imbalances and patterns of abuse over many years
- The particularly vulnerable position of children who are exposed to domestic
violence as victims or witnesses, and the impact that such exposure can have on
their current and future physical, psychological and emotional well-being, and
- That domestic violence is best addressed through a co-ordinated legal and social
response of assistance and prevention of violence and, in certain cases, may be
the subject of appropriate intervention by the court.
Effects of Child Exposure to Domestic Violence
The specific effects may differ depending on a host of variables, such as the
children’s ages, the nature and severity of the violence, the existence of other
risk factors in the children’s lives (for example, poverty, parental substance
abuse), and whether the children are also directly physically abused. In
general, childhood exposure to domestic violence can be associated with
increased display of aggressive behavior, increased emotional problems such as
depression and/or anxiety, lower levels of social competence, and poorer
academic functioning. Research to date indicates that children who live in
domestic violence are at greater risk for maladjustment than are children
who do not live with such violence
Children exposed to domestic violence with
children from nonviolent homes with respect to one or more aspects of child
- externalizing behaviors (such as aggressive behavior and conduct
- internalizing behaviors (such as depression, anxiety, and low
- intellectual and academic functioning;
- social development (social competencies with peers and adults, for
- physical health and development.
Effects of child exposure to
domestic violence indicates that this exposure has an adverse impact across a
of child functioning, produces different effects at different ages, increases
the risk for child abuse, and is associated with other risk factors such as
poverty and parental substance abuse. It doesn't reveal reliable information
about the impact of particular types or frequencies of domestic violence on
children, or how children with specific characteristics are affected across
Numerous studies have documented that even young children are likely to
exhibit emotional distress, immature behaviour, somatic complaints and
regression in toilets and language (Bell, 1995; Drell et al.,1993; Jaffe et al.,
Impact of exposure to domestic violence on child functioning
Differences across groups in these behaviors revealed that children exposed to
domestic violence tended to be more aggressive and to exhibit behavior problems
in their schools and communities ranging from temper tantrums to fights.
Internalizing behavior problems included depression, suicidal behaviors,
anxiety, fears, phobias, insomnia, tics, bed-wetting, and low self-esteem.
few studies that assessed problems related to cognitive and academic functioning
found differences between children from violent, versus nonviolent, homes.
Children exposed to domestic violence demonstrated impaired ability to
concentrate, difficulty in their schoolwork, and significantly lower scores on
measures of verbal, motor, and cognitive skills.
Children may not always observe
the violence (and in many instances the abuse is manifested in psychological and
controlling behaviour by the perpetrator) but they are still aware that the
abuse is happening (Øverlien and Hydén 2009;Swanston et al., 2014). At the most
basic level, living in an emotionally charged and violent household has negative
implications for children’s emotional and mental health in both the immediate
and longer term (Kitzman et al., 2003;Wolfe et al., 2003; Evans et al., 2008).
Age Span Differences
In infants from homes with partner abuse, the child's needs for attachment may
be disrupted. More than 50 percent of these infants cry excessively and have
eating and sleeping problems.
Infants are also at a significantly increased risk
for physical injury
Preschool-aged children who witness intimate violence may develop a range of
problems, including psychosomatic complaints such as headaches and abdominal
pain. They also can display regressive behaviors such as enuresis, thumb
sucking, and sleep disturbances.
During the preschool years, children turn to
their parents for protection and stability, but these needs are often disrupted
in families with partner abuse. Increased anxiety around strangers and behaviors
such as whining, crying, and clinging may occur. Nighttime problems such as
insomnia and parasomnias are more frequent in this age group. Children in this
age group who have witnessed domestic violence also may show signs of terror,
manifested by yelling, irritability, hiding, and stuttering.
School-aged children also can develop a range of problems including
psychosomatic complaints, such as headaches or abdominal pain, as well as poor
school performance. They are less likely to have many friends or participate in
outside activities. Witnessing partner abuse can undermine their sense of
self-esteem and their confidence in the future. School-aged children also are
more likely to experience guilt and shame about the abuse, and they tend to
Adolescent witnesses have higher rates of interpersonal problems with other
family members, especially interparental (parent-child) conflict. They are more
likely to have a fatalistic view of the future resulting in an increased rate of
risk taking and antisocial behavior, such as school truancy, early sexual
activity, substance abuse, and delinquency.
Ways to help the children
Arranging school age children to receive counseling from professionals at their
school, often school counselors.
Experimenting with various types of counseling: play therapy, peer support
groups, anger management classes, and safety programs to teach kids how to
extract themselves from dangerous situations.
Finding a loving and supportive adult to introduce to the child and encourage
the child to spend as much time regularly with the adult. This may include a
trusted family member or community advocate.
Providing a safe environment that does not include violence in any form after a
child has witnessed domestic violence.
Finding ways to discipline that do not involve hitting, name-calling, yelling or
any form of verbally aggressive behaviour.
Helping children create a sense of safety by having scheduled routines, such as
regular meals and homework times.
Increased public and professional awareness that domestic violence should not be
tolerated, there is also some evidence to show that domestic violence has one of
the highest rates of recidivism.
This article has argued that for the significant number of children living with
domestic violence, the experience is often traumatic and the consequences in
both the immediate and longer term are significant for the majority of these
children. Children who appear to cope better tend to have strong attachments to
a non-violent parent or other significant adult, and to have had the opportunity
to engage in therapeutic work sooner rather than later.
This should involve a range of measures including:
- Clear procedures within organizations for safeguarding the child based on a
clear assessment of the child’s needs, their parents’ capacity to provide for
these needs and any wider environmental or family factors that may impact on the
- Agreed inter-agency procedures for working with the child, the victim
and the perpetrator of the abuse
- The provision of therapeutic support services to the child and adult
- A response that aims to work with perpetrators to get them to take
responsibility for their behaviour and the impact it has on others
- A range of services that are tailored to the specific needs of
based on their ability to engage and willingness to change.
Award Winning Article Is Written By: Ms.Shivani Chiragbhai Jani
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R. M., ... & Lorey, F. (1993). Effects of domestic violence on children's
behavior problems and depression. Developmental psychology, 29(1), 44.
- Devaney, J. (2015). Research Review: The Impact of Domestic Violence on
Children. Irish probation journal, 12.
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- Osofsky, J. D. (1995). Children who witness domestic violence: The invisible
victims. Social Policy Report, 9(3), 1-20.
- Fantuzzo, J. W., & Mohr, W. K. (1999). Prevalence and effects of child exposure
to domestic violence. The future of children, 21-32.
- Stiles, M. (2002). Witnessing domestic violence: The effect on
children. American Family Physician, 66(11), 2052.
- from National Forensic Sciences University Gandhinagar, Gujarat, India
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