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CounselingNH E-Zine, Issue #008 Domestic Violence Effects
August 12, 2008

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July 15, 2008 Volume 1, Issue #007-Domestic Violence Dynamics

A Note From Jim

Feature Article: Dynamics of Domestic Violence

A Note From Jim:

Hi, Jim Foster here. We are continuing the current series of E-Zine issues regarding Domestic Violence. Initially it was defined. In the last issue, dynamics of domestic violence were explored. In this issue the effects of domestic violence on children will be discussed.


Effects of Domestic Violence on Children by James Foster

Children are our most precious resource and important responsibility. They are highly sensitive, impressionable and extremely vulnerable. They are in a captive audience position with their parents and the inevitable recipient of all information in their presence. Children can’t help but to experience anything that goes on around them. They experience the world like a dry sponge experiences liquid. Children absorb and soak up anything in their presence. In the beginning of life infants and toddlers are similar to blank slates waiting for writing. They are like software waiting to be programmed. Some of their personality will be determined by genetics but much of it will be as result of their early experiences of the world. Developing children form their thinking, attitudes and self concepts around their experience. They, to a large extent, become what they experience. We now know there is no significant difference in effect between the child who is physically abused and the one who witnesses physical abuse. There is also no significant difference in effect between the child who is struck and the one that a parent intimidates by standing in front of them with clenched fists, screaming at the child in a threatening and menacing manner. Both methods of abuse result in fear, anxiety, intimidation and shame.

Children are damaged by witnessing or experiencing abuse by their parents because of their identification with them. Identification is a process through which a child’s personality development is being influenced. Children are greatly affected by what they like and what they fear. They copy and immitate aspects of both until they internalize them. Children may not witness every act of violence that occurs with their parents but they never miss experiencing the dynamics of domestic violence. They pick up on the theme and plot. Children tend to identify with the aggression and aggressor to identify with the victimization and recipient of the violence. A belief and attitudinal system is developed through this identification. While these are the long term effects of domestic violence, the short term effects can be debilitating.

Children frequently develop fears and anxieties or bravado, experience difficulty sleeping or getting up and have trouble maintaining focus or tasks such as learning, doing chores or even playing with friends. Some children may become controlling and aggressive with peers and siblings while others withdraw and isolate. They frequently develop relational trends toward chaos and violence while at the same time develop a numbness toward the world that will later prove to be very problematic.

Many of the adult participants in our Domestic Violence Intervention Program are very concerned about the effects they have had with or their children. Their motivation to be accountable and change their patterns of relating comes more from this concern than any other single source.

If you have any questions about the way you are conducting yourself in your home, look towards the type of impact you are having on your children as an indicator. If you don’t like what you see, call someone and take a positive step towards your child having a better chance in lif

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All the Best,

Jim Foster

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