What Domestic Violence Can Mean for a Child During Adulthood
When a child or adolescent experiences domestic violence directly or indirectly within the home, the results can become both detrimental and long lived. If a child or adolescent is introduced to domestic violence, they become diagnosed as "at-risk." This term is often used to define the vulnerability to a vast majority of negative outcomes, which can include poverty, substance abuse, early sexual activity, lack of education and intelligence, and repetitive abusive actions (REFERENCE). When in an adolescent state, the child often observes their surroundings, learning to imitate actions and habits they learn from others within the home. While this may be beneficial for low risk families, the learning of actions and habits learned within the home of an at-risk child allows the domestic violence process to repeat itself for another generation. Domestically abused children are at-risk of repeating the negative outcomes of their parental figures, but do have the opportunity to break the cycle.
The most dangerous demographic to be in for the domestically abused is poverty. In 1973, a study was done following juvenile delinquent boys. Upon the conclusion of the study, researchers found that being a part of a low income family was among top common factors that could lead to adolescent delinquency. When the study was retested in 2010, it found saddening results. Not only had the new study clarified the 1973 information, but it found that the rate of delinquency was on the rise (REFERENCE). Many argue that because twenty five percent of United States children live in poverty, many of which do not have healthcare, that the role of a child is becoming less and less significant. In child abuse cases, poverty is the most frequent and persistent risk factor. Abuse of a child can come in many forms, such as physical, sexual, and psychological abuse, or general, medical, and educational neglect. Reported physical abuse and child neglect are greater for the poor (REFERENCE), some of which can be related to stressors directly linked with poverty status or with the inability to provide proper child care while attempting to earn money. Because those in poverty are at greater risk of being domestically abused, they also have a greater risk of bringing destructive behaviors, such as continuing the victim role or pursuing the role of the abuser, into their adulthood.
Poverty was also linked to domestic violence leading to disability, risking the chance of a child ever being able to escape the life of poverty and abuse when reaching their adulthood. Disabilities can be a result of violence and abuse, substance abuse and stress, inadequate prenatal care, adolescent pregnancy and rearing, and exposure to alcohol, drugs, smoking, and sexually transmitted diseases. Since 1982, the difference between the rich and the poor has dramatically increased, and most of the low income families are single parent families, many of which will repeat abusive behaviors (REFERENCE).
When a child or adolescent is domestically abused, they become at-risk and a likely candidate for substance abuse. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) states that there is a statistical relation between substance abuse and domestic violence (REFERENCE). Even though substance abuse does not directly lead to domestic violence, the studies have found that those who committed a domestic abuse crime frequented alcohol and other drugs (REFERENCE). Even for children that had parents that abused substances, when an adult domestically abuses a child, the chances of substance abuse increases in the child. The Department of Justice found that around sixty-one percent of those committing domestic abuse crimes have substance abuse problems (REFERENCE). Relating this information to their children, the abuser uses substances and then abuses their child. To seek refuge, their child becomes a substance abuser and runs the risk of becoming an abuser within their adulthood. From there, the chain risks repeating itself.
When the child decides to become a drug and alcohol user, they risk their education. Altering the brain with drugs or alcohol at a young age causes problematic physical changes to a child's brain and body. The use of the drugs can make it more difficult for a student to perform well in school. With gateway drugs such as cigarette smoking, a student may appear to be less attentive or active if attending school at all. Smoking will lower the student's immune system, raising chances for absenteeism (REFERENCE). When the student decides to increase their risk with different drugs, such as marijuana, they will become less oriented and more passive. If the student decides to use more than one dangerous substance at a time, the student immediately becomes a high risk for becoming a candidate of school drop-out (REFERENCE). This potentially traps a child or adolescent into living a low income life as an adult. The substance abuse mixed with poverty will greatly increase their chances of being involved with abuse in adulthood.
When a child or adolescent is domestically abused, their risk of early sexual activity increases. Besides taking away childhood innocence, early sexual activity can lead to teenage pregnancy or obtaining sexually transmitted diseases. The chances that an abused adolescent will have early sexual activity before the age of sixteen is over two times as likely as those who have not been abused (REFERENCE). Longitudinal Studies of Child Abuse and Neglect (LSCAN) ran a study on 822 children and found that one of the leading factors to early sexual activity came from emotional stress while living in a domestically violent home. The rates at which a child would become sexually active early were even higher if a child was physically abused rather than sexually abused at home. Therefore, the LSCAN suggests that if a child is noticeably sexually active early on, outside adults should look further into the home life of the child by either calling the cops or family services (REFERENCE). The difference in the child's life could be dramatically different.
When a child becomes sexually active, the risks can be lifelong. If the child is involuntarily sexually active, such as the case with rape, molestation, or sexual abuse from within the home, there can be psychological risks, including the incapability to get intimate, lack of long-term or interpersonal relationships, or depression. The risks can also be physical, including pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease. In either case, the domestically abused child that experiences voluntary or involuntary early sexual activity may bring psychological or physical problems into their adulthood.
A child that experiences or witnesses domestic violence while growing up are considered to be at-risk of impaired educational advancement, including areas such as higher intelligence, problem solving skills, forming self-esteem, and forming good relationships. Children living within a dysfunctional family have an increased risk of a psychological disorder, as one in five have one or more, including developmental, learning, or emotional disorders (REFERENCE).
When a child lacks a stable home life, they often look to influential figures beyond their parents for advice or as role models. In some instances, this can in turn benefit the child, assuming they choose a role model such as a teacher or coach. Unfortunately, often times the abused child will seek information from other resources. For advice, the child may turn to their peers, of which may be a bad influence for the child. For role models, the child may turn to mass media sources for information, including movies, celebrities, music, and other entertainment sources (REFERENCE).
With educational disabilities as a common factor involved in domestic violence, most of which were caused by head trauma or malnutrition (REFERENCE). Every day, the United States experiences roughly 2,800 students dropping out of school. The lack of education as a result of dropping out of school will most undoubtedly create a lifestyle of poverty for the child or adolescent (REFERENCE). As discussed before, being of a low income class increases the chances of domestic violence.
Abusive behavior is learned, not instinctual (REFERENCE). If a child or adolescent is not personally abused but is aware of the abuse in their household, they become at-risk, emotionally abused. Because the trait is learned, it can become a repetitive action from one generation to the next. As a child grows, it is observed that conflict is solved through violence towards one another, thus accepting and acting upon this learned portion of their environment (REFERENCE). This then opens opportunities for them to either continue to be a victim in other relationships or become an abuser, experienced with a significant other or with their own children. Abusing their own children will continue the lesson of abuse to further generations. The chances of one becoming an abuser increases when one was abused as a child (REFERENCE).
If the child is emotionally abused because of experiencing parents abuse one another, there are still long-term effects, despite their lack of direct involvement. If a son views a father abusing his mother, the chances of him abusing a significant other in his future relationships during his adulthood are…