What parents do and don’t do, say or don’t say, provide their children with the experiences that their children interpret into beliefs. Those, in turn, then determine their behaviour and emotions and ultimately their lives for better or for worse.

For this piece I want to take a brief look at domestic violence, and in future blogs, want to cover how our thoughts, fears and attitudes shape the children who share our space.

If you are around children they will most probably be affected in some way by your abusive behaviour.
This page provides the following information:

– How does my behaviour affect my children?

– In what ways can children witness domestic abuse?

– How does my behaviour affect my children?
Children learn from their environments and / or their parents. Because of their experiences, they can grow up thinking that a certain situation (e.g. domestic violence and abuse) is normal.

Normalising such behaviour for children is dangerous, as they may take their experiences with them through to adult life.

Young people experiencing domestic abuse (either directly or indirectly) can become withdrawn, violent, and lose confidence in themselves. The experiences can also have a significant emotional impact on them. The Royal College of Psychiatrists states that children or young people might:

*become anxious or depressed
*have difficulty sleeping
*have nightmares or flashbacks
*be easily startled
*complain of physical symptoms such as tummy aches
*start to wet their bed
*have temper tantrums
*behave as though they are much younger than they are
*have problems with school
*become aggressive
*they may internalise their distress and withdraw from other people
*have a lowered sense of self-worth
*begin to play truant or start to use alcohol or drugs
*begin to self-harm by taking overdoses or cutting themselves
*have an eating disorder
*Children may also feel angry, guilty, insecure, alone, frightened, powerless or confused.

Lisa (15 years)“…that’s what I always do – I lie awake at night. I still do. I make myself be awake so that I can jump up when it happens and get between them…it’s important that I don’t go to sleep for my mum’s sake…I have to help my mum…otherwise he might hurt her really badly”.

In what ways can children witness domestic abuse?

Children can ‘witness’ domestic violence in a many different ways. They may be:

*Caught in the middle of an incident as they want to try and stop it
*In the room next door and hear the abuse or see any resulting injuries
*Needed to help the victim tend to any injuries
*aForced to stay in one room or may not be allowed to play.
*Forced to witness sexual abuse
*Forced to take part in verbally abusing the victim

Remember – children are at risk of harm if they are attempting to protect one of their parents from the other.

(From the web, http://www.devon.gov.uk/index/childrenfamilies/domestic_violence/adva-perpetrators/how-could-my-behaviour-affect-children.htm)

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