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When children witness or experience abuse in the home, they can be dramatically affected by it in very negative ways. Every abusive relationship has similarities and differences, but when children are involved, the same message is sent.
Following is a list of destructive beliefs that a child may internalize when they witness or experience domestic violence. A child may believe that:
Abuse is normal
Violence is a good way to solve problems
Violence has a place in the family
If violence is reported to others in the community, nothing is done about it
Unequal sexist power in the family is to be encouraged
Violence is an appropriate means of stress management
Being violent gets me what I want
Victims of violence are supposed to put up with the abuse
Victims of violence cause the violence
Any abuse must be kept secret
People cannot be trusted
Children in families where abuse is occurring may take on additional responsibilities to protect their parent and siblings who are being abused. They may try to keep the peace and pacify the abuser. They may believe that they are at fault for the violence and if they were better children, the violence would not occur. It is very important that these messages be combated early to prevent them from growing into adult beliefs.
What a Child Learns from Domestic Violence