I have previously written on the impact of childhood adversity on adult life. Specifically, violence in the home has a huge impact on the future of a child. A recent article in USA Today cites the research and some significant conclusions on this issue. Although those who work with children have intuitively recognized for years that violence in the home has significant impact to their behavior, attitudes and beliefs about themselves, we are just beginning to see the widespread impact of violence to our children.
I found it alarming that at least 4.5 million children witness violence in their home. The numbers could be even greater than that. These children can show all kinds of effects to this kind of exposure. It has effect on brain structures and how they develop or not and can create other neurological deficiencies. It can resurface as a form of PTSD in adult life. Certainly, it can be passed inter-generationally. It can add to mental health issues like anxiety, depression and learning problems in school.
Fundamental to the problem of violence in the home is the perception that the very people children should be trusting the most are not protecting them, their other family members or the environment of the home. This is a major violation to a child, has significant impact to their emotional and relational development and will make their entire world into a distrustful and sometimes threatening place. Therefore, they will be prone to live in a “high alert” level of brain arousal. They could then find themselves in a chronic state of fear which will inhibit their ability to think clearly, will make them very impulsive in their decision-making, will increase their heart rate, will disallow them to think long-term and will even lower their functional IQ. In violent environments children will not do well emotionally or relationally and will be more prone to have significant health problems.
The risk for those who are living in the environment of domestic violence are considerable and they need immediate help. For those who have children that are in these situations, it is essential that the domestic violence cease so as to not create life dominating problems that will be extremely difficult to heal later in life.
If you wish to read more about the impact of violence on children here is the link to the recent article in USA Today: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2019/01/29/domestic-violence-research-children-abuse-mental-health-learning-aces/2227218002/
Also these are sources to call if you are experiencing domestic violence or know someone who is. Our children need us to be protectors of their homes and lives. Their future life and health depends on it.
- National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or online
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
- National Child Traumatic Stress Network for resources and treatment.