EXPOSURE OF CHILDREN TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
Family is considered as an important and a necessary unit for any child’s growth and development, but can the same be said for a dysfunctional family such as when the child witnesses or is exposed to his/her mother experiencing domestic violence?
Children can be exposed to violence in several ways. Exposure to violence cannot be limited to children witnessing the violence of any kind (physical, emotional, mental, financial, social etc) but includes a wide range of factors such as
- Child hears the violent incident
- Asking a child to speak to prove a point, e.g. who yelled first
- Blaming the other partner the other parent in front of child
- Coaching the child to speak in favour of one parent
- Spying on the other partner such as asking the child about the conversations of the other partner
- Using the child as a pawn to abuse the partner
- Forcing child to be silent about the abuse in the family
- Involving the child in arguments such as asking child to take sides during fight/argument
Exposure to domestic violence can affect the child throughout his/her life. Children exposed to domestic violence are at higher risk to develop behavioural problems.
Effects of violence on children: some of the effects but not all are mentioned below
- Behaviour and emotional problems such as self blame, anxiety, guilt, need of excessive attention , aggression, withdrawal, depression etc
- Fear of losing a parent or being separated from the parent
- Poor academic performance, limited problem solving skills.
- Future perpetrator of violence as the child may identify with the behaviour of the abuser or may perceive it as normal.
- Psychological and behavioural problems in adulthood
- Definition of normality may change
Reasons given to justify exposure of violence towards children: some of the reasons are
- This is part of life; he/she should learn to bear it
- We satisfy needs of the children
- We fight when the child is not present
- My parenting skills towards the child are good
- He/she is too young to understand anything
Where to seek help
For counselling and support for child and/or family
- Sanjeevani voluntary organisation, counselling centre, Qutab Institutional Area, Ph: 26862222/26864488(10 am-5 pm); Jangpura, ph: 24318883/24311918(10 am- 7pm)
- SNEHI, to cope with exam stress, relationship difficulties, sexual health, ph: 65418181, (Mon-Sat 2pm-7pm)
- Sarthak, for psychological and psychiatric support, 24,Satya Marg, Hauz Khas Village,Hauz Khas ,ph: 26537457/32517186
To seek assistance with respect to domestic/family violence, you may visit or contact
- Special Police Unit for Women and Children, Nanakpura, Near Moti Bagh Gurudwara, Delhi -21, Phone: 24105214, Fax: 24105214, email :