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Domestic Violence And Children

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Definitions Domestic Violence Defined Citation: ARS: 13-3601

Domestic violence includes:

* Any act that is a dangerous crime against children

* Endangerment

* Threatening or intimidating act

* Assault

* Custodial interference

* Unlawful imprisonment or kidnaping

* Criminal trespass

* Harassment or stalking

* Child or vulnerable adult abuse

Persons Included in Definition:

* A spouse or former spouse

* Persons residing or having resided in the same household

* Persons having a child in common

* A party who is pregnant by the other party

* A parent, grandparent, grandchild, stepchild, brother, or sister

* A child who resides or has resided in the same household

Defining Domestic Violence

Domestic violence can be defined generally as "a pattern of assaultive and /or coercive behaviors, including physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, as well as economic coercion, that adults use against their intimate partners to gain power and control in that relationship. All jurisdictions in the United States have laws that define domestic or family violence. Researchers estimate that between 3.3 million and 10 million children are exposed to domestic violence each year, and that this exposure can have significant negative effects on children's emotional, social, and cognitive development. These effects may include:

* Aggressive behavior and other conduct problems

* Depression and anxiety

* Lower levels of social competence and self-esteem

* Poor academic performance

* Symptoms consistent with posttraumatic stress disorder, such as emotional numbing, increased arousal, and repeated focus on the violent event.

The Impact of Domestic Violence on Children

For children, the impact of witnessing domestic violence can be devastating. Children may witness acts of domestic violence by being present in the room during the incident of abuse, by hearing the violence from another room, or by seeing their mother's bruises, black eyes, or broken limbs. Some children are traumatized and need intensive therapeutic interventions after witnessing the abuse, while others may require only removal from the situation and support. Clearly, the impact of living in homes where domestic violence is present is detrimental to the

emotional, developmental and physical well-being of those children. Studies reflect that at least 3.3 million children are exposed to domestic violence each year.

Children may be caught in harm's way and inadvertently injured during a violent episode. One study found that males 15 years of age and older often attempt to intervene in the violence perpetrated against their mothers. The children may lie terrified in their beds as the violence rages outside their bedroom doors or cower within the safety of a closet or other hiding place. In the worst case scenario, children may suffer serious injury or be killed in the batterers's continuing endeavor to completely control his victim.

Many children exhibit signs of post traumatic stress disorder after witnessing domestic violence. Symptoms may include inability to sleep throughout the night, bed-wetting, anger acted out through temper tantrums or directed inward and manifested by withdrawal or disassociation. As children grow older, they may experience feelings of guilt for not protecting their mothers and may turn to drugs or alcohol to numb these feelings. School-aged children tend to have poor academic performance, are absent frequently and may either have behavioral problems or withdraw and dissociate.

Children who grow up in homes where domestic violence occurs are also more likely to abuse others or become victims of abuse as adolescents or adults. At a very early age, male children who have witnessed their fathers' abusive behavior may begin behaving similarly toward their mothers and female siblings. By age five or six, some children are disrespectful of the victim for her perceived weakness and begin identifying with the batterers. Female children learn early on

that their mothers are subjugated through the abusiveness of their partners. Unfortunately, those perceptions are normalized and children actually begin to believe that their experiences are no different from the experiences of their friends or classmates.

In addition, because violence is a learned behavior, growing up in a violent home can contribute to someone potentially becoming abusive. Of all batterers, two-thirds witnessed domestic violence while growing up. ( Government and academic studies consistently demonstrate that the majority of victims of domestic violence are females and that batterers are overwhelmingly male.) However, many males who witnessed violence in their childhood homes have gone on to have healthy family relationships. The same is true for girls who have grown up in a violent home. Although some do become victims of abuse, others develop healthy interpersonal relationships. It is still unclear why some people are able to develop healthy relationships while others continue to repeat the cycle of violence.

Children of Domestic Violence Statistics

* For every hour, as many as 115 children are abused

* 90% of children from violent homes witness their fathers beating their mothers

* 63% of all boys, age 11-20, who commit murder, kill the man who was abusing their mother

* Children in homes where violence occurs are physically abused or neglected at a rate 1500% higher than the national average

* Research has shown that the more severe the abuse of the mother, the worse the child is abused

* Nationally, 75% of battered women say their children are physically or sexually abused

* Daughters

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