As a domestic abuse law firm in Seattle, we know that in homes where one parent abuses the other, children are always affected. While the abuse can be a mother abusing father, in most cases it is a father abusing mother. That is the situation we will address today.
It does not matter if the father never abuses his children, they suffer from abuse if he is violent against their mother. The parents may try not to fight in front of the children, but they always know they are or have been fighting. The atmosphere changes in the home, and the child is afraid.
The child in a house ruled by domestic violence may see the physical abuse, or hear the violence, or see the aftermath and feel fear. They will notice black eyes, bruises, torn clothing, red and swollen eyes from crying and other signs of injury. Even very young children will try to comfort the abused parent.
As the child develops, they learn to watch for signs of a coming explosion and triggers that they know will set off an abuser. They never feel safe. They try very hard to keep everything calm, but they are children, and they lack the ability and power to do so. They learn from a very early age that the abuse they live in is not acceptable and is the family secret. They carry the fear that if a teacher or a neighbor figures it out, they will be in big trouble and it will be all their fault. That is a lot of pressure to put on a little kid.
Anger is a tough emotion for a child to deal with and overcome. They are usually not allowed to express the anger. They are on guard continually to ensure their mother or siblings do not do something to set dad off. When they do, the child becomes angry at them. In this scenario, when the father goes into his violent acts, the child feels anger and rage toward him. He wants to protect his mother from the physical or verbal punches. But he is too small, too young, and too afraid to stand up to dad, so he rages inside with no outlet. Finally, he feels incredible guilt. He feels guilty for not protecting his mother, and he feels guilt for getting angry at her or his siblings.
Physical, Behavioral, Emotional results
No human can live in these conditions without having physical and emotional issues. The human body is not geared to live like this. Here are a few of the medical issues that will need to be addressed:
- Difficulty in sleeping
- Stomach aches
- Acting out in school
- Bullying others
- Running away from home
- Resentment for adults in an authoritative position
It is important for the mother to remove herself from the violence around her children. The family needs counseling to heal. But do not neglect the children. They also need help in understanding why they feel the way they do, permission to feel it, and they need to learn the skills to release it.
For more information, contact a domestic violence lawyer today.