Don’t fool yourself, the children know about abuse|Guest column

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 29, 2009

October will be Domestic Violence Awareness month. I would like to address issues concerning the real victims of domestic violence — the children. It has been proved that the trauma to a child who merely sees and hears domestic violence is very similar to the trauma a child experiences when actually a victim of domestic violence. Here are some sobering statistics that may help you understand the severity of the problem.

Ed Simpson is director of the Simpson Counseling & Consulting and Domestic Violence Intervention Program. He can be reached at 601-868-1475 or email.

• Children in violent homes are physically abused or seriously neglected 1,500 percent more often than children in homes without violence.

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• Children are most often abused by an adult male.

• 25 percent of children are abused by both parents.

• Mothers are eight times more likely to hurt or abuse their children when they are being hurt or abused themselves.

• Most children in a home are aware of the violence directed at their father or mother.

• Many times, when a child is considered “bad,” it is directly related to violence in the home.

• Children learn to survive and protect themselves when there is violence, sometimes in inappropriate ways.

• A study of over 900 children in a family violence shelter found that:

    -70 percent were victims of physical abuse or were neglected in the home.

    -50 percent had been physically or sexually abused.

    -5 percent had been in the hospital because of the abuse.

    -20 percent had already been reported to protective services agencies.

As you can see, children are the real victims when it comes to domestic violence. I once made a recommendation to a client to ask his children if they knew when he was going to become violent. He reported with a remorseful countenance that his 7-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son stated, “Sure Dad, when — and she stated the name of the family’s pet dog — starts heading under the sofa we know that you’re angry with Mommy.” When I ask perpetrators if their children were present during an altercation, most will say, “Yes, but they were in their room,” or, “They were asleep.” When asked if the children were involved, the answer is usually, “no.” However, when a perpetrator is busy trying to control his victim, the last thing on his mind is concern of how his violent behavior is affecting the children.

Each situation is unique. Although there may be many others, here are some typical examples of the effects of violence on children:

• Low ambition.

• Poor self-image/low self-esteem.

• Being a loner and antisocial.

• Emotional distress and deprivation.

• Depression.

• Aggressive behavior toward others.

• Emotional injuries.

• Poor school adjustment (educationally and with peers).

• Modeling abusive behavior, i.e., may learn aggressor/victim roles.

• Running away.

• Alcohol/drug abuse.

• Sexual activity, often resulting in sexually transmitted diseases.

• Involvement in abusive relationships.

• Abusing their partners later in life.

• Early marriage.

• Death ( murder and or suicide).

Remember, our children deserve the best. Every home should be a safe home and there is “NO EXCUSE” for domestic violence.