National Violent Offender

EFFECTS OF FAMILY VIOLENCE


It has been suggested in several studies that there is a greater chance that a child who is a victim of violent acts will tend to approve of or engage in violent acts as an adult. The victim will learn the roles of both victim and abuser simultaneously and may enact either at a later date depending upon situational factors.

EFFECTS ON ADULTS:
death (of either perpetrator or victim) by homicide

death by suicide

disabling injuries

depression: (a) victim may become immobilized due to constant fear; (b) aggressor may lose sense of self worth and/or experience guilt over violent acts; (c) either may experience a range of psychiatric symptoms which add to their dysfunction and may require hospitalization

difficulty in obtaining, maintaining, and adjusting to employment

emotional abuse and deprivation

breakup of family unit

court fights regarding separation, divorce, and custody of children

perpetuation of social isolation for fear of violence being disclosed

continuing violence which will escalate if alternative behaviors are not learned

recurrence of violent behavior with new partner

expansion of violence into the community. EFFECTS ON CHILDREN:
death by homicide

death by suicide

emotional injuries, such as low self esteem

depression

aggressive behavior toward others/delinquency

poor school adjustment (educational and peer adjustment)

modeling behavior; learned victim/aggressor roles

runaway episodes

alcohol/drug experimentation

early marriage

continuation of violent behavior in their adult relationships

expansion of violence into the community. Thus the home becomes a "training ground" for violent interaction patterns. Research has shown that both victims and witnesses of violent acts against family members may identify with the aggressor. They observe that aggressors in a "love" relationship achieve their goals by using violence which may result in the observers' modeling the aggressive behavior themselves.

These patterns are then passed from generation to generation. Thus, spousal assaults represent serious long range problems for the community and the family, problems which extend far beyond the cessation of the immediate violence.

Identification of the victim with the aggressor is more powerful when the aggressor is a role model, as In the case of parents or siblings. Parental aggressive behavior and violence are confusing to the child who receives nurturance, food and warmth from the same person. Children also learn other patterns of poor coping, insecurity, and ineffectual methods of interpersonal interactions.

In summary, most parents use the same child rearing strategies with their own children that their parents used with them. It follows that violent behavior tends to be passed on from generation to generation simply because people behave in the ways they learn in their families. There are few opportunities in our society to learn alternative child rearing skills or techniques for conflict resolution. It becomes apparent in adulthood that alternatives to physical violence have not been learned and, as punishment and other violent acts seem to be effective means of dealing with other people, alternative behaviors are not sought.

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