Exposure to domestic violence, as victims or witnesses makes children more vulnerable and can create problems for them in the adulthood. According to the famous psychiatrist and researcher Daniel Siegel “the mind develops as the brain responds to ongoing experience”. As a result, domestic violence can have long-term impact on child that is exposed to it.
According to the article, children victims or witnesses of violence are more likely to suffer from “fear of harm or abandonment, excessive worry or sadness, guilt, inability to experience empathy or guilt, habitual lying, low frustration tolerance, emotional distancing, poor judgment, shame, and fear about the future”. How children respond to this differs – boys are more likely to show aggressive behavior and become offenders, while girls are more likely to become victims and withdraw, suffering from depression. Compared to their peers, children victims or witnesses of domestic abuse are more likely to suffer from anxiety, depression, social and emotional issues, learning difficulties, self-harm and develop poor relationships. “Studies have found evidence of much higher rates of pro-violence attitudes, rigid stereotypical gender beliefs involving male privilege, animal abuse, bullying, assault, property destruction, and substance abuse.”
However, there are protective factors that can help addressing the impact of domestic violence, such as “child’s literacy and overall intelligence, the extent to which the child is outgoing and socially competent, and whether the child has safe and supportive relationships with at least one influential adult”.