Domestic Violence and Children
The COVID-19 pandemic has proved difficult for everyone. It has affected the nation’s health, livelihoods, and even our supply chain. It has also impacted our ability to leave the house and interact with others. Not surprisingly, recent reports show a rise in loneliness and depression. Unfortunately, that’s not the only negative consequence.
Research has linked the isolation of COVID-19 to growing cases of domestic violence. As leaders around the nation attempt to limit the spread of the virus, they also limit a victim’s ability to escape their abuser.
Each year, about 10 million people suffer from domestic violence, including an alarming number of children.
Abuse is deeply traumatic and can affect a victim’s ability to build healthy relationships, trust others, and feel hope for the future. So what happens when that victim is a child?
What Is Domestic Violence and Who Is at Risk for It?
According to the UN, domestic abuse can be defined as any pattern of relationship behavior that allows one person to gain power over another. Victims can be of any age, gender, sex, faith, class, or race. Abuse is often divided into categories of physical, psychological, sexual, or emotional violence.
Abuse happens any time a person acts in a way that:
Victims can be any member of the household, including children. In fact, young age is classified as a risk factor for domestic violence.
What Are the Effects of Domestic Violence on Children?
There are several factors that contribute to the overall effects of domestic violence on children. The victim’s age, personality, and relationship to the abuser play a role. Other determining factors include the kind of abuse endured and how long it continued.
Sometimes, a child is visibly affected by the abuse. Other times, there may be no obvious, outward signs. You should always seek professional support if you believe your child has been abused.
Short-Term Effects of Domestic Violence
In the short term, a child may exhibit signs of fear, anxiety, depression, and guilt. They could also suffer from nightmares, have trouble sleeping, or start to act out in anger. Poor grades, skipping school, and self-harm are additional short-term effects to be aware of.
Long-Term Effects of Domestic Violence
An abused child may suffer from long-term effects of abuse, as well. Oftentimes, adults who were abused as a child self-medicate or fall victim to substance abuse. They are also more likely to either become an abuser themselves or to be abused by others in the future.
Additional long-term consequences of domestic violence can include:
- Low self-esteem
- An inability to trust
If these issues are not dealt with, they may become increasingly severe over time.
What Are the Effects of Witnessing Domestic Violence?
Sometimes, a child is not directly harmed by a perpetrator, but they can still be affected by violence in the home. If the child is a witness to violence directed at a parent or sibling, they can suffer from a lot of the same effects mentioned earlier. In fact, this experience can be just as damaging as direct abuse.
Research indicates that children who witness domestic violence are more prone to act out at home or at school. They are also more likely to suffer from poor social skills, school performance, and relationship building.
How Can You Help a Child Recover from Domestic Violence?
If your child has experienced or witnessed abuse, they need to feel protected and safe. If you have not yet left the abuser, it may be time to consider the possibility.
In helping your child to recover, you must also be willing to talk openly about:
- Their fears
- What a healthy relationship looks like
- How to set healthy boundaries
You should also seek out professional help for your child. A therapist can help a child to manage their negative thoughts and memories. They can also treat anxiety and depression, if necessary.
Above all, your child will need your love and support. Because the lingering effects of abuse can cause a child to lash out in anger, this can be an especially difficult time for parents.
It’s important to make it clear that the abuse was not your child’s fault. You may want to consider therapy for yourself as you navigate your own feelings, as well.
When Do You Need a Lawyer?
Everyone deserves to live a life free from abuse. Even if the situation feels inescapable, there is always hope. Remember that your child’s abuser is not just behaving badly, but criminally as well. Therefore, it may be time to speak with a lawyer about your legal options.
An attorney can help you obtain a temporary protection order. From there, you can file a domestic violence complaint that leads to a long-term protective order. This will give you a safe space to consider other legal options, like divorce.
If you have recently been arrested, accused of a crime, or need your record sealed or conviction expunged, contact a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney today.
Need a Criminal Defense Attorney? CALL NOW: 310-274-6529
Seppi Esfandi is an Expert Criminal Defense Attorney who has over 20 years of practice defending a variety of criminal cases.