According to a report on domestic violence by the National Resource Center (NRC), nearly 65 million adults have likely been exposed to domestic violence in their lifetime. Children exposed to domestic violence often suffer long-term emotional, behavioral, and developmental effects. Each child who is exposed to domestic violence may respond differently. For example, some may exhibit post-traumatic stress symptoms while others may mimic the behavior they witnessed. The trauma of witnessing abuse may even persist into adulthood, contributing to the increased risk of suicide among adults who were exposed to domestic violence as children.
How Domestic Violence Affects Children
According to the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACES), childhood exposure to domestic violence can lead to several serious consequences, including disrupted neurodevelopment and social, emotional, and cognitive impairment. Children who experience traumas such as divorce or domestic violence are more likely to act out and get in trouble. They are also more likely to become abusers when they reach adulthood.
The founding director of a child advocacy group says that children who grow up in an unsafe environment tend to develop a world view that nothing is safe, which negatively affects their relationships as they get older. She notes that children ages six and younger are more likely to be affected by domestic violence than adolescents and teens because they spend more time at home. The brains of young children are still developing and are vulnerable to the effects of domestic violence. Some ways in which children might respond to domestic violence exposure are:
- Aggressive behavior
- Lack of empathy
- Social isolation
- Inability to form healthy relationships
- Drug use
When children cannot rely on their parents to provide a safe, predictable, and nurturing environment, they often suffer developmental skills and post-traumatic stress symptoms. According to the assistant professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may cause a child to re-experience their traumatic memory, exhibit avoidance behaviors, and suffer severe mood changes such as depression.
Domestic Violence and Adult Suicide Risk
According to the NRC report, children who experience domestic violence are at an increased risk of being suicidal as adults. Those who faced a childhood trauma are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, and attachment disorders than those who did not. The increased risk of suicidality is attributable to the early exposure to domestic violence as well as other co-existing factors such as lack of parental support or involvement, and academic difficulties. Children exposed to domestic violence who do not have adequate coping and problem-solving skills may be at an increased suicide risk as adults unless they can foster their innate resilience and allow themselves to heal.
Towson Domestic Violence Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC Fight to Remove Children from Abusive Environments
If you are a victim of domestic violence and are seeking to remove your child from an abusive environment, call the experienced Towson domestic violence lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC. Our skilled attorneys handle domestic violence cases as well as all aspects of absolute and limited divorce including child custody, child support, and alimony. We represent clients throughout Maryland, including Baltimore, Baltimore County, Bel Air, Columbia, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Hunt Valley, Essex, Towson, and Westminster. For a free, confidential consultation, contact us online or call us at 443-589-0150.