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The Negative Results of Childhood Exposure to Domestic Violence

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The phrase “domestic violence” typically refers to violence between adult intimate partners. It has been estimated that every year there are about 3.3 to 10 million children exposed to domestic violence in the confines of their own home (Moylan, Herrenkohl, Sousa et al. 2009). According to research conducted by John W. Fantuzzo and Wanda K. Mohr(1999): “[e]xposure to domestic violence can include watching or hearing the violent events, direct involvement (for example, trying to intervene or calling the police), or experiencing the aftermath (for example, seeing bruises or observing maternal depression)” (Fantuzzo & Mohr, 22). The effects of exposure can vary from direct effects such as behavioral and developmental issues to interpersonal relationships, all of which lead to detrimental prospects on the child’s development. This paper will explore those effects and how it affects children.

Exposure to violence in the first years of life brings about helplessness and terror which can be attributed to the lack of protection received by the parent. The child can no longer trust their parent as a protector (Lieberman 2007). This lack of trust early in life can bring about serious problems later in life, as there is no resolution to the first psychosocial crisis, trust vs. mistrust. For these children exposed to domestic violence, the imaginary monsters that children perceive are not only symbolic representations or a dream. The monsters that children who witness domestic violence have to deal with carry the reflection of their parents. Children who witness domestic violence face a dilemma because the children’s parents are at their most frightening exactly when the child needs them the most. The security of the child is shatter...

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... was reported that many children found it difficult to develop friendships for reasons such as holding back from others as well as fear of inviting others to their home (Adams 2006).

In conclusion, it is clearly shown that domestic violence has a negative effect on the children who witness it. An expanding body of research suggests that childhood trauma and adverse experiences can lead to a variety of negative health outcomes (Anda & Chapman & Dube & Felitti & Giles & Williamson, 2001, p.1). In fact, childhood stressors such as witnessing domestic violence and other household dysfunctions are highly interrelated and have a graded relationship to numerous health and social problems (Anda & Chapman & Dube & Felitti & Giles & Williamson, 2001, p.2). It is obvious and clearly shown that the children who witness domestic abuse have serious long term mental effects.
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