There are a lot of reasons not to stay in an abusive relationship, but we’re going to talk about one more: the effect that being around domestic violence has on your children.
No matter how hard you try to shield your children from the violence, they likely are witness to somewhere between 68% and 80% of incidents. Worse, their odds of also falling victim to violence ranges between 45% and 60% — which is up to 15 times higher than for children who don’t grow up in a house with domestic violence.
But the real danger to your children is probably the long-term psychological damage your children are experiencing. Here are the problems kids in these situations face:
- One or both parents may be emotionally unavailable, which makes it hard for children to have the psychological bonds and support they need to thrive as they grow.
- Children in abusive households often suffer from a chronic fear of abandonment, the anxiety of worrying about physical harm to themselves or their victimized parent, shame and other negative emotions that can carry over well into adulthood.
- The children may act out in violent ways and learn other unhealthy coping mechanisms for stress as they grow into their teen years.
- They may develop related psychological problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder, which can lead to a decreased quality of life and premature death.
- They may not learn how to create healthy bonds with siblings, peers and future partners.
Domestic violence doesn’t just hurt the victimized spouse or partner. It has negative consequences for everyone in the household. If you’re struggling to break free of a violent home life, a protective order can help.