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The National Domestic Violence Hotline number is: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
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Domestic violence affects every member of the family, including the children. Family violence creates a home environment where children live in constant fear.
Children who witness family violence are affected in ways similar to children who are physically abused.. They are often unable to establish nurturing bonds with either parent Children are at greater risk for abuse and neglect if they live in a violent home.
Statistics show that over 3 million children witness violence in their home each year. Those who see and hear violence in the home suffer physically and emotionally.
"Families under stress produce children under stress. If a spouse is being abused and there are children in the home, the children are affected by the abuse." (Ackerman and Pickering, 1989)
Dynamics of domestic violence are unhealthy for children:
* control of family by one dominant member.
* abuse of a parent.
* protecting the "family secret".
Children react to their environment in different ways, and reactions can vary depending on the child's gender and age.
Children exposed to family violence are more likely to develop social, emotional, psychological and or behavioral problems than those who are not. Recent research indicates that children who witness domestic violence show more anxiety, low self esteem, depression, anger and temperament problems than children who do not witness violence in the home. The trauma they experience can show up in emotional, behavioral, social and physical disturbances that effect their development and can continue into adulthood.
Some potential effects:
* Grief for family and personal losses.
* Shame, guilt, and self blame.
* Confusion about conflicting feelings toward parents.
* Fear of abandonment, or expressing emotions, the unknown or personal injury.
* Depression and feelings of helplessness and powerlessness.
* Acting out or withdrawing.
* Aggressive or passive.
* Refusing to go to school.
* Care taking; acting as a parent substitute.
* Lying to avoid confrontation.
* Rigid defenses.
* Excessive attention seeking.
* Bedwetting and nightmares.
* Out of control behavior.
* Reduced intellectual competency.
* Manipulation, dependency, mood swings.
* Isolation from friends and relatives.
* Stormy relationships.
* Difficulty in trusting, especially adults.
* Poor anger management and problem solving skills.
* Excessive social involvement to avoid home.
* Passivity with peers or bullying.
* Engaged in exploitative relationships as perpetrator or victim.
* Somatic complaints, headaches and stomachaches.
* Nervous, anxious, short attention span.
* Tired and lethargic.
* Frequently ill.
* Poor personal hygiene.
* Regression in development.
* High risk play.
Giving Children Love and Care
Nurturing children from abusive homes can bring healing to their lives. In giving needed love and care to children, it is important for a parent to reflect these essentials:
Trust and Respect
Acknowledge children's right to have their own feelings, friends, activities and opinions. Promote independence, allow for privacy and respect their feelings for the other parent. Believe in them....
Provide Emotional Security
Talk and act so children feel safe and comfortable expressing themselves. Be gentle. Be dependable.
Provide Physical Security
Provide healthy food, safe shelter and appropriate clothing. Teach personal hygiene and nutrition. Monitor safety. Maintain a family routine. Attend to wounds.
Be consistent; ensure that rules are appropriate to age and development of the child. Be clear about limits and expectations. Use discipline to give instruction, not to punish.
Participate in your children's lives, in their activities, school, sports, special events, celebrations and friends. Include your children in your activities. Reveal who you are to your children.
Encourage and Support
Be affirming. Encourage children to follow their interests. Let children disagree with you. Recognize improvement. Teach new skills. Let them make mistakes.
Express verbal and physical affection. Be affectionate when your children are physically or emotionally hurt.
Care for Yourself
Give yourself personal time. Keep yourself healthy. Maintain friendships. Accept love.
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