In the western culture, childhood is referred to as the period of special protection and rights. When a child is brought up in a safe and nurturing environment their development is expected to unfold.When a child is born, their brain is about 25% of its adult weight, which later increases to 66% by the end of first year. During the developing stages the brain is most susceptible to the impact of traumatic experiences (Perry, 1997). Latest research implies that exposure to extreme trauma can change the organization of the brain, which can result in problems in dealing with stresses later in life (Brown & Bzostek, 2003). According to the attachment theory, a child's sense of security depends on security of attachment to its first caregiver. In addition, the kind of relationship developed serves as a model of how to relate to people later in life. If the earliest relationships that a child develops are not bonded with safety and trust, the effects are possible to be extensive and long lasting. As per the research conducted on attachment during infancy, the more serious the level of partner violence the higher is the possibility of developing insecure and disorganized attachments. According to Gunnar (1998), insecure infants turn out to have increased cortisol levels even after mild stressors.
The term domestic violence can be defined as the continuous physical, sexual or psychological abuse that a one has to witness at home. Domestic violence is practiced at home in order to gain control and establish power over the other person. At present, in our society the rate of awareness regarding domestic violence is increasing. When a child has to witness domestic violence constantly at home, it tends to develop emotional as well as behavioral problems in them. In addition, their development is effected because these children have to face unexpected and immediate school or home changes along with parental separation at times as well.
While considering the effects that domestic violence on the development of a child we consider that the child is residing in a home where spousal abuse happens frequently. According to Cleaver et al. (1999), studies imply that when such violent incidents took place in a domestic situation, they happened in the presence of children. As a result, these children also got abused. When the environment where the child is brought up in gets infested by violence and fear, direct effect is seen on the child's development.
Children who have to witness domestic violence are comparatively more likely to have social, behavioral and emotional problems than those children who are nurtured in a safe and secure environment. A child who belongs to a family that practices domestic violence exhibits antisocial and aggressive behavior. Also, these children later in life get depressed and anxious (Brown & Bzostek, 2003). Additionally, they have a hard time in school where they have issues coping up with motor, cognitive and verbal skills. According to the research conducted of late, male children who get exposed to domestic violence at a young age later in life also start practicing domestic violence as they grow up. Whilst, females on the other hand are more like to become victims of domestic violence as adults (Brown & Bzostek, 2003).
A young child may not be able to develop a sense of trust of security if the circumstances are home are dangerous and violent. Research suggests that when a child is three years old, those children who have been exposed to domestic violence earlier might respond to adult anger with increase in aggressions towards their peers and with greater distress (Cuming, 1994).
The children who have to observe violence experience the same level of negative psychosocial outcomes as children who actually are victims of physical abuse (Kitzmann, 2003).
According to Brandon (1996), some research suggests equal prevalence rates of male as well as female committed violence; however as per the other research this idea is rejected. The reason is that the number of incidences in which women is a victim of violence exceeds that of violence against men. Also, in comparison to men; women tend to have a greater impact on violence injuriously and emotionally. Unfortunately, the women comparatively are at a higher risk of being harshly and lethally abused by their male partners. When a child has to live with his mother's abuse this is a form of emotional abuse, together with negative consequences for the emotional and mental health of the child. Also, a direct effect is seen in their future relationships (Brandon, 1996).
The term direct violence is described as the instance when one has to witness both violent and sexual assaults on their mother. Apart from directly observing violence children also get to overhear such issues or get to observe the aftereffects. Domestic violence also indicates the risk of direct physical as well as sexual abuse of children. A research conducted by Osofsky (1999) suggests that children who have to witness domestic violence at home are 15 times more like to by physically abused and neglected in comparison with those children who don't have to face such situations at home. Households that practice domestic violence also compromise on meeting the needs of their child. When a woman is being frequently abused the affect in seen in the relationship of the mother child as well. The bond of mother child is compromised as these women experience low self-esteem, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression. Also, the research implies that the domestic violence has a direct impact on the woman's ability to develop authority as well as control over her children. In a number of cases adolescents demonstrate physical aggression towards their parents (Jackson, 2003). Over the years as the child grows this aggression increases.
Martin (2002) acclaims that when the child has to grow in an abusive home environment it jeopardizes their development progress along with their personal ability. The effect is long-term and as adults it can contribute ominously towards the cycle of adversity and violence. During infancy and toddler years, a child is totally dependent on their mother as they consider their mother to be the primary care-giver. Domestic violence at home during these early years develops a fear of being along in the child. Also, they demonstrate sleeping issues, emotional distress and problems with language and toilet training. A research conducted by Bogat (2006), instigated that about 44% of infants who have been exposed to domestic violence develop at least one trauma symptom. When preschoolers who face domestic violence at home were compared with those children who don't, results showed that affected children develop more behavioral problems, social problems, and difficulty in developing empathy, post-traumatic stress symptoms and poorer self-esteem. Children of this age group get to scared of such situations that they start to have psychosomatic problems including; stomach aches, headaches, insomnia, asthma, sleepwalking, nightmares and enuresis.
When school-age children were observed who had been affected by domestic violence the results showed that these children tend to depend more on influences outside their family as role models. Majority of the children begin to hide their secret from others as they are scared if others find out they would be made fun of. In addition, these school going children have problems making friends in school and are at risk of bullying others or even being bullied. As a result of all the stress they have to face at home, children become aggressive and fail to follow the rules of school. The leaning potential of a child in greatly effected and can be compromised by poorly developed verbal skills, absenteeism or exhaustion. However, research suggests that exposed adolescents are less possible to develop a secure attachment style and thus become more avoidant as they don't believe in having a secure attachment and don't trust in intimate relationships (Levendosky, 2002).
To conclude, the development of a child is highly effected by the ongoing occurrences of domestic violence. Children develop fear in them along with being upset when they have to witness their mom being abused all the time. Also, they start to practice self-harming on them as a consequence and experience suicidal thoughts. In order to attain revenge on their father or mother's partner children often try to do so by physically hurting them. Whilst, teenagers tend to build so much anger in them that ultimately they just want to attack the violent man. Often children express themselves as being powerless in such situations as there isn't much that they can do about it at the moment. It has been found out that it is harder for children to hear the violence than actually having to see the assaults as when they are not able to see what is happening, the believe that the man would just kill their mother. When the feeling of powerlessness increases in the children it can increase their trauma.
As a result of the man's violence at home, children frequently bring their problems into school. Since, they…