Family violence is believed to be one of the most commonly practiced crimes in the United States. Violence within the family is a horrific form of violence and has many negative effects. Family violence could involve any member of the family including spouses, generally women or wives, children, or even senior members of the family. While women abuse is more common in most families, numerous children witness abuse in some form or the other.
It is more likely for children of abused women to experience abuse in the family (“Women and Violence”, U.S. Senate Judiciary Hearing, August/December 1990). The women facing abuse have a greater propensity to resort to alcohol intake to relieve them from the mental and physical pain of the abuse. The effects of abuse in the family are negative and in most cases, the affected women and children tend to develop several psychological problems.
The children who are regularly abused by the family member or members, have a greater likely hood of suffering from low self-esteem feelings of depression and are likely to be at a higher risk for alcohol and drug abuse (Jaffe, Wolfe & Wilson, Children of Battered Women, 1990, pp. 28-29). Even when the children do not experience direct abuse, merely witnessing the abuse also causes several problems and side effects. These side effects may be behavioral, emotional, social, cognitive, or even physical (Effects of observing family violence, Lecture notes). The behavioral effects on the children will be visible by their aggression, cruelty to animals, and delinquency (Effects of observing family violence, Lecture notes).
Emotional effects among children may be visible by symptoms of anxiety, anger depression, and in many cases lack of self-confidence and esteem (Effects of observing family violence, Lecture notes). There is also a greater likelihood of these children lagging in their school studies or experiencing difficulty in sleeping, with some incidents of bed-wetting (Effects of observing family violence, Lecture notes). In most cases, children who witness violence in their lives, whether directly or indirectly are highly prone to the “spillover” effect of this violence (Cultural Spillover Theory, Lecture notes). In a study, Edelson found that children witnessing the abuse of their mothers, “lacked empathy” in their lives (Cultural Spillover Theory, Lecture notes).
Any kind or form of violence witnessed by children in their families is likely to cause the “cycle of violence” (Family Violence, Lecture Notes). Children may experience abuse in the form of verbal abuse, physical abuse, mental abuse, sibling abuse, or even sexual abuse. Children witnessing any kind of abuse are highly likely to develop several problems which may lead the child to excessively aggressive behaviors, low self-esteem, lack of trust, and in some cases the desire to commit suicide (Children’s reactions to abuse, Lecture Notes).
Abuse may be present in many families, whether indicated and visible or not. It is highly important to recognize these indicators or “red flags” in families which may at the surface seem normal but actually may be in the need of desperate help (The front Stage Family, Lecture Notes). These red flags or indicators can be visible in the form of the behavioral attributes in children or the affected members of the family. Sibling abuse is another common cause of abuse among children which has the potential to hamper the development of the child in a positive manner.
Sibling abuse may include physical, emotional or psychological, or even sexual abuse (Forms of Sibling Maltreatment, Lecture notes). Thus we see that in whichever way a child is exposed to abuse, whether in the form of parental abuse or sibling abuse, the positive growth and development of the child is affected in a negative manner, which ultimately leads to the formation of a personality that is weak, low in self esteem and has behavioral problems.
Children’s reactions to abuse, Lecture Notes.
Cultural Spillover Theory, Lecture notes.
Effects of observing family violence, Lecture notes.
Family Violence, Lecture Notes.
Forms of Sibling Maltreatment, Lecture notes.
Jaffe, Wolfe & Wilson, Children of Battered Women, 1990, pp. 28-29.
U.S. Senate Judiciary Hearing, 1990, “Women and Violence”.
The front Stage Family, Lecture Notes.