Long-Term Effects on Domestic Violence on Family Members
The effects of domestic violence on children, as stated earlier, correlates with the child's developmental stage and the severity and frequency of the abuse. The effects must always be assessed on a case-by-case basis—some children may experience a very traumatic result from witnessing or being exposed to only one act. Other children possess amazing resilency. Generally, research shows that boys who witness violence are three times more likely to grow up to use violence in their intimate relationships than those boys not exposed to family violence (Stark & Flitcraft, 1996). This same research shows that violence is quite a legacy; sons of violent fathers have an estimated rate of woman abuse 1,000 times higher than the sons of nonviolent fathers. Conversely, girls who witness their mothers being abused may have a greater rate of tolerance for abuse in a relationship (Hotaling & Sugarman, 1986). The body of research on the connection between violence and short/long-term effects continues to grow. Several of the experts in the area recently noted that almost 100 studies report associations between exposure to adult domestic violence and current child or later adult problems (with the current child population studied for both direct and secondary impact) (Gerwitz & Edleson, 2004).
According to Jaffe in some early research in the field, one third of the children witnessing violence show behavioral and emotional disruptions, anxiety, sleep disruption, and school problems. Approximately 20 to 40 percent of the families of chronically violent delinquent adolescents had family histories of domestic violence (Jaffe, Wolfe, & Wilson, 1990). Other research indicates that depression and reduced verbal, cognitive, and motor abilities are predictable results of witnessing adult violence (Holden, Geffner, & Jouriles, 1998; The Future of Children, 1999; Effective Intervention, 1999). Significant volumes of research consistently show that witnessing violence as a youth promotes the use of violence in adulthood to solve problems and as a means of gaining control. Research on the long-term effects on adults show that depression, low self-esteem, emotional trauma and posttraumatic stress, and revictimization are often experienced by survivors of violence (Bolton & Bolton, 1987). All of these factors must be considered before examining a specific situation and creating a plan or opportunity to work on building a relationship with a parent who is living with violence.
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