Dealing with Domestic Violence and Child Abuse: Societys Judicial Disgrace!

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Domestic Violence Services for Green County Wisconsin

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Children, Violence, and Trauma—Treatments That Work

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What is Domestic Violence? | Green Haven Family Advocates

Will usually ship within 2 business days of receiving cleared payment - opens in a new window or tab. Taxes may be applicable at checkout. Learn more. The figures illustrating a high incidence of child witnesses to domestic violence are reinforced by Walker who also reported that 87 per cent of children were aware of the violence between adult partners, while Dobash and Dobash in a study of first, worst and last attacks of violence recalled by victims, found that 58 per cent of the attacks took place in front of the children.

Sinclair's research based on clinical experience has suggested that if children are in a violent family, 80 per cent of them will witness an episode of wife assault. What they witness may range from a fleeting moment of abusive language to a homicide Bowker, Arbittel and McFerron A review of Victoria's domestic violence legislation between and has also shown some alarming results.

For instance, during 90, of the violent domestic incidents reported to the police, 92 involved the threat or use of a gun. Sixty-five per cent of these cases were witnessed by children under the age of 5, and 35 per cent were witnessed by children aged between 5 and 9. A further 84 incidents involved the use of a weapon usually a knife where 79 per cent were witnessed by children under 5, and 25 per cent were witnessed by children between the ages of 5 and 9.

Children under the age of 5 were also present at more than two-thirds of domestic disputes in which property was damaged. Over the three-year-period, an analysis of domestic disputes dealt with by the Magistrate's Court shows that children were assaulted or molested in 25 per cent of domestic disputes; and in 4 per cent of cases children were held in unlawful custody by the perpetrator Wearing Some children who witness domestic violence are also victims of the abusive behaviour.

Studies have shown an overlap between violence towards women and violence towards children of at least 40 per cent Straus, Gelles and Steinmetz ; Hughes The Queensland Domestic Violence Task Force phone-in revealed that, of the 88 per cent of respondents who reported the presence of dependent children, 68 per cent said that their children had also suffered at the hands of the perpetrator of domestic violence.

Of these, 68 per cent reported their children being physically abused, 70 per cent reported emotional abuse, and 8 per cent reported sexual abuse. Research in the United States has also shown that the rate of child abuse and neglect of children in violent homes has been found to be fifteen times greater than the national average Peled and Davis In a New Zealand study, Church stated that half of the children surveyed had to be protected by their mother during the confrontation.

Significantly only 6 per cent 23 of the respondents with abused children in the Queensland Domestic Violence Task Force Report contacted the Department of Family Services. This is similar to research conducted by Roy who stated that 95 per cent of her sample of adult family violence victims did not report the husband to the authorities for child abuse.

Domestic violence as a form of child abuse: Identification and prevention

Reasons cited for this ranged from fear of reprisals to counter charges by the husband. Walker concludes as a consequence of her research with a sample of abused women that they were eight times more likely to hurt their children while they were living in a violent relationship, than when they were safe from violence. This is supported by Straus, Gelles and Steinmetz who found that mothers and fathers in violent marriages are both more likely than their counterparts in non-violent marriages to be child abusing parents.

There is now a small, slowly emerging literature on the effects of witnessing violence on children's psychological development. Initially the literature was limited to clinical descriptions of children's behav ioural and emotional problems elicited primarily from assessment of children in women's shelters. These assessments used a standardised checklist which measures internalising problems depression, somatic or physiological complaints, anxiety and withdrawal and externalising problems disobedience, destructiveness and aggression.

Recent studies have improved methodologically by including appropriate comparison groups and additional standardised measures, and by examining a wider range of children's dysfunctional and adaptive behaviour. These studies represent beginning efforts to document the effects domestic violence has on children's behaviour, their cognitive and social problem-solving abilities, as well as their coping and emotional functioning.

A discussion of this literature in terms of age, stage of development and gender is outlined below.


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Infants, by definition, are the most limited of all children in their cog- nitive abilities and resources for adaptation. In terms of behaviour, however, infants who witness spousal violence are often characterised by poor health, poor sleeping habits and excessive screaming Jaffe et al. It is also possible that they may suffer serious, unintended consequences when their basic needs for attachment to their mother may be significantly disrupted.

Routines around sleeping and feeding often become far from normal. A mother living in fear of her husband may be unable to handle the stressful demands of an infant. Clearly, any rejection from lack of availability to their principal caretaker, which is likely to continue for the duration of the domestic violence, would be felt by the child and could have long-term effects in the form of emotional deprivation Hart and Brassard Developmental evidence suggests that children begin to learn the importance of emotions for communication and regulation early in the first year of life.

They look for cues in their principal caregiver in order to recognise the appropriate emotion. They are therefore aware of others negative emotions and mirror these in their own responses Cummings et al. By the second year of life, children are developing basic attempts to relate causes to emotional expressions Jaffe et al. A research study Cummings et al. It was found that the expressions of anger caused distress in the young children. This distress became even more appar- ent when verbal expressions were accompanied by the physical attack of another family member.

They also found that repeated exposure to anger between their parents increased the likelihood of these stress reactions in the children, and as a result the children made more efforts to become actively involved in the conflict. Based on these initial data, the researchers hypothesised that exposure to harsh emotions threatens children's sense of security in relation to their social environment. In a second study Cummings et al.


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  • They found that these children readily distinguished between warmth and anger, and that the children responded to angry adult interactions with significantly greater displays of distress and subsequent increases in aggression with their peers. When the children were exposed a second time to negative emotional exchanges a month later, the researchers found even higher levels of distress and aggressive behaviour.

    Interestingly, boys showed more aggressive behaviour than girls following the simulation, whereas girls showed more distress than boys during the simulation. The short-term, immediate effects of domestic violence on toddlers can often be portrayed by behavioural problems such as frequent illness, severe shyness, low self-esteem, and trouble in daycare as well as social problems such as hitting, biting or being argumentative Blanchard et al.

    Generally, the behaviour of boys tends to be externalised, while the behaviour of girls tends to be internalised. For instance, Carlson describes girls as having an increasing assortment of physiological symptoms and being more likely than boys to become withdrawn, passive, clinging and anxious. In a third study, this time on children aged 4 and 5, Cummings et al. In addition, the researchers were able to identify the following three types of behavioural reactions to adult arguments.