Domestic violence is a serious problem in Washington and elsewhere. However, when you are in a relationship that involves domestic violence and have children, it’s even worse. Your children see and hear the abuse going on and are significantly affected by it.
The dangers of domestic violence with children
Children are smart. They know what’s happening around them even if you try to keep instances of domestic violence in your home secret. Abuse in the home around the children can lead to serious psychological and emotional harm. Even if the violence doesn’t actually take place right in front of the children, they still know when something is going on and can be affected by conflict.
When children are exposed to domestic violence, they often act out as a result. They can develop both emotional and behavioral issues that can spread beyond the home and to their school life and activities. Sometimes, parents may not even realize that the children are badly affected.
In some cases, when there’s domestic violence, the abuse can extend to the child as well. Sometimes, that might be deliberate or accidental.
What behaviors can children exhibit?
Domestic violence can cause children to exhibit certain behaviors and symptoms. Even if the child isn’t subject to the abuse themselves, the following can be present:
- Aggressive behavior
- Bullying or being the victim of bullying
- Changes in eating or appetite
- Fighting at home or school
- Loss of interest in school, friends or hobbies
- Self-imposed alienation
- Sleep issues such as nightmares or wetting the bed
Children who are around domestic violence and abuse in the home need to be evaluated by a therapist or other mental health professional. It’s important for them to get the treatment they need if they are exhibiting emotional and behavioral issues. Individual, group or family therapy might be able to help. Some children might even need medication.
If you are a victim of domestic violence, you need to think about your children. However, you have to take care of yourself as well. That means getting help for you and your children.