How an Abusive Marriage Hurts Children

Posted by David Wizinsky on Sunday, September 2nd, 2018 at 4:00pm.


Regardless of whether a parent hits them, too, children are injured by domestic violence. Kids are the silent victims. They’re traumatized when they witness one parent attacking the other, and they can also feel threatened or be hurt themselves. If you’re in an abusive marriage, the best thing you can do for your kids is summon up the courage to get out and take them with you. Kids are resilient and, given the chance, they can heal.


The Trauma of Watching Violence

Up to 10 million children witness domestic violence every year in the U.S., according to experts at CORA, Community Overcoming Relationship Abuse. The kids are aware of the violence. All children — from those as young as 1 or 2 years old to teenagers — feel fear, helplessness, guilt, rage, and confusion. The extent of a child’s trauma depends on her age and the severity, length, and frequency of the abuse.


Symptoms of Trauma

Children exposed to domestic abuse suffer a range of symptoms, and no two react exactly alike. School-age kids often show aggressive behavior, either toward themselves or toward others, causing problems in school. Sometimes they become perfectionists, terrorized by the fear of failure but getting good grades. Most lose self-esteem and become depressed. They may complain of headaches or insomnia, experience bed-wetting or become very clingy. Teens can show any of these same symptoms, but older children often look for ways to deaden the pain, such as by using drugs or alcohol, running away from home or getting involved in risky sex.


Domestic Abuse and Child Abuse

More than half of men who assault their wives also abuse their children, according to CORA experts. The abuser resorts to intimidating and reckless behavior in order to maintain control over the family, and children and teens may feel isolated, humiliated, threatened or be sexually or physically abused themselves. An abusive parent may threaten to hurt younger siblings or to kill family pets. These kids are often denied access to basic needs like medical care and proper nutrition.


Steps Toward Healing Kid’s Psychological Wounds

If you and your kids are victims in an abusive relationship, moving forward can protect your children as well as yourself. According to experts at Farzad Family Law, it’s important to get help when you decide to act. Lawyers and agencies working with domestic abuse victims can obtain immediate restraining orders, preventing the abuser from having contact with you. After you’re safely away, you can help your kids heal by encouraging them to express their feelings, reassuring them that the violence was not their fault and ensuring their present safety. You might also want to consider getting them into counseling.


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