Family violence, also called domestic violence, is the abuse of one family member by another family member to gain power and control. The abuse can take many forms:
Family violence is a problem for everyone in the family, not just the victim. Family violence often goes along with alcohol or drug abuse. Usually the victims of violence are women. However, both men and women can be abusers and both can be victims.
The negative effects of family violence can last a lifetime. Seeing violence between adults in the family has a greater negative effect on children than television, video games, and movies. The way that violence affects children depends, in part, on a child’s age, how severe the violence is and how often it happens. It also depends on how well parents are able to love and care for their children. Being a loving parent is often hard for both the adult victim and the abuser.
Even babies can sense that something is wrong. They may have more problems with feeding, play, and other daily activities. They may cry more. The fussiness can increase the risk that the baby will be a target of violence.
Children can blame themselves and feel guilty about causing the violence, even when they have no part in it. Older children may imitate the violence they see. Some children become aggressive, cruel, disobedient, and destructive. Other children may get sad, anxious, fearful, or withdrawn. Children may have physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches, or trouble sleeping. Violence between adults can also lead to violence between siblings. Children in violent homes may have a hard time getting along with other children and often do not do as well in school.
Teens from violent homes often take more risks, like drinking, using drugs, or breaking the law. They may become violent adults or be victims of violence as adults.
The longer your child is exposed to violence, the greater the risk. There is only one way to protect your child: Stop the violence.
Other things you can do to help your children include:
Many states have toll-free, 24-hour domestic violence hotlines. Look online or in your local telephone book to find one in your area. You can get more information from: