Effects of Witnessing Domestic Violence on Children Emotionally:
  • Feelings of powerlessness/guilt/self-blame
    - learned helplessness                                                                                    - guilt at having escaped punishment
  • Feeling responsible for the violence
  • Feeling unable to protect someone they love
  • Low self-esteem
  • Depression
  • Shame
        - this doesn't happen anywhere else
  • Confusion and insecurity
  • Conflicted loyalties (love vs. hate)
  • Fear
        - of expressing feelings (especially anger)
        - of divorce or separation
        - of what will happen next
        - of injury to self or mom                      
  • Poor definition of self and/or defines self in a parenting or caretaker role
  • Anger about the violence and lack of "normalcy" or stability in their life
  •  Poor impulse control/withdrawal and attention seeking   behaviors
  •  Stress disorders and psychosomatic complaints
  •  Increased social isolation or withdrawal
  •  Refusal to go to school or at early/stays late
  •  Short Attention Span
  •  Overachiever vs. Underachiever
  •  Taking care of others over self
  •  Aggressive vs. Passive
  •  Developmental Tasks Regression                                                           -bed wetting
         - nightmares
         - baby talk
  •  Lack of creativity and healthy exploration
  •  Hard to set limits with them
  •  Internalizing and externalizing behaviors
Cognitively (what they have learned or are learning):
  • Inability to predict or make inferences 
  • Difficulty focusing on the content of language                                   - language is used to keep others at a distance rather               than to convey meaning 
  • Cause and Effect relationships ill-defined  
  • Fear of abandonment 
  • Feeling responsible for the violence 
  • Blaming others for behavior 
  • It's ok to hurt or hit others to get what you need     
    - violence solves conflict or differences 
  • Inability to trust (because of promises to "change" that are  broken) 
  • To feel angry is bad 
  • Learn not to ask for what you need 
  • To be male = hurting women · to be female = to be hurt by males 
  • May exaggerate the batterers good traits
  • May totally deny that the violence has occurred 
  • May want to identify with the dominant parent
  • Fear of confrontation
  • There is a fair amount of evidence via research that social skills decrease as the severity of violence increases 
  • Isolated: without friends or distant in relationships 
  • Poor conflict resolution skills 
  • excessively socially involved as an excuse to stay away from the home 
  • Decreased ability to respond empathetically to others
There is a higher chance of being involved in marital aggression if you observed violence rather than if were hit as a child. People are also more likely to accept violence in adult relationships if they witnessed violence between their parental figures as a child. This is role specific: when the male role is defined as violent. there is more than a 50% chance that the violence will continue.
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