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Video Transcribed: This is Tulsa attorney Justin Mosteller with the Wirth Law Office in Tulsa, Oklahoma. You are watching part three of a multi-part series on domestic violence in Oklahoma. Today’s episode is titled It’s All My Fault: How Domestic Violence Impacts Children.
Now, we’ve discussed children as a potential factor in a domestic violence situation before, but today’s installment is going to focus on children entirely. We’re going to break that into two separate parts.
The first part will be, how do children come into contact with domestic violence? How are they exposed to domestic violence?
And the second part will be, what type of impact does exposure to domestic violence have on children as they develop?
Now, children typically encountered domestic violence visually. Normally these children, they see the the effects of domestic violence.
Either they see the actual incident occur itself or they see the aftermath such as bruising on one of the partners, and the children internalize this. It creates an atmosphere of violence in the house.
Emotional abuse also involves the children. Put downs on one partner against the other in the presence of the child. Humiliating one of the partners in the presence of a child. Taking steps to shape how the children see their mother, for instance, if the abuser is the father.
That’s one way that emotional abuse can be used to overall affect the coercion and control that the abuser is seeking and furthering that goal by using the children as tools to accomplish that objective.
In the process, those children are getting exposed to toxic situations that can have profound mental impacts on them.
Children are also brought into these situations directly by abusers who use the children specifically to cause harm or to control and coerce their partner. Abusers might threaten to take children away from the abused victim.
The perpetrator might blame the mother or father for what has happened to the kids, for what the kids have had to endure. They might probe the children for information on the other spouse, and that can be very harmful to a child.
And this unfortunately is something that I see a lot, but abusers tend to undermine the mother’s efforts to parent her child and also undermine their authority of the mother or father, if the father is the abuse victim, as a parent.
And that can be particularly corrosive. But those are just some of the ways that children are exposed to domestic violence.
Honestly, there can be more ways than just this, but these are good examples. Now, I want to talk a little bit about what results to these poor children who experience domestic violence in the home, and the picture is pretty bleak.
Depending on the severity and the frequency of the abuse that the child witnessed, that child can be subject to many issues at different developmental stages.
At younger ages, there might be withdrawal or lack of responsiveness, intense pronounced separation anxiety, developmental regression, loss of acquired skills, low birth weight, contradictory feelings towards each parent, traumatic play, difficulty bonding and attachment to adults.
And just for your reference, I’m reading these to you today from a resource provided by the National Council Against Domestic Violence and published in a manual from Oklahoma DHS about domestic violence and specifically how to better serve children in domestic violence situations.
With that said, from age six to 11, the issues tend to change a little bit. We find that children who are exposed to domestic violence in that age range have difficulty sleeping and nightmares.
They have aggression, difficulty with peer relationships, withdrawal and/or emotional numbing, school avoidance, truancy, overly alert or hypervigilant, anxiety, excessive worry, overly clingy, physical complaints, acting younger or older than age.
From 12 to 18, children exposed to domestic violence tend to display more impulsive and/or reckless behaviors. They’re more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, withdrawal, PTSD. They’re more likely to be aggressive and delinquent.
They’re more likely to mimic adult roles, and they’re more likely to have self-harming behaviors like suicide and have earlier sexual activity. That’s a pretty long list of likely harms that we are trying to protect these children from.
But the saddest statistic of all is that being involved in a domestic violence situation, being exposed to an atmosphere of violence for that long makes the child more likely to re-offend as an adult themselves so that the cycle continues.
Now, if you find yourself in a violent domestic relationship, reach out for help. Get the resources that you need, and call an attorney to help you escape that situation, because the longer that you are in it, the more harm you’re doing to your children.
You may not be thinking of it that way. You may think that the children aren’t seeing all the things that are happening here. We’re doing a really good job of not letting them see our arguments, covering up the bruises.
But I would just want to provide one more bit of information. This comes from the same report I’ve been reading off of.
I’ll just read this here. Surveys have shown 80 to 90% of children in domestic violence homes can provide detailed accounts of specific instances of violence. That means that these kids are seeing these acts even when we think they’re not seeing these acts.
It does tremendous harm to them. Think about your children. Recognize that you’re in a bad situation, and reach out for help.
If you’d like to reach out to me, I can be reached at the Wirth Law Office at 918-932-2800. I’m a seasoned pro at dealing with these type of situations.
I’m looking forward to working with you to get your life back on track and to get you out of that dangerous situation. Thanks.