Over 4 million women are said to have experienced violence from their partner in the United States.
The devastating effects of domestic violence on women are well documented.
Far less is known about the impact on children who witness a parent or caregiver being subjected to violence.
The numbers estimated by research are staggering. As many as 275 million children worldwide are said to be exposed to violence in the home.
That is 275 million helpless children exposed to traumatic violence in the place they are meant to feel most comfortable.
It is key that we understand more about the effects of domestic violence on children, how it affects them in the present, growing up and well into the future.
What we do know, is that children who grow up in a violent home are more likely to be victims of child abuse.
Unicef and The Body Shop International partnered to launch a campaign ‘Stop Violence in the Home’.
As part of this campaign, Unicef conducted a study ‘Behind Closed Doors: The Impact of Domestic Violence on Children’ and their research had three key findings:
- There is increased risk of children becoming victims of abuse themselves
- Among victims of child abuse, 40 per cent report previously experiencing domestic violence in the home
- There is significant risk of ever-increasing harm to the child’s physical, emotional and social development
- Infants and small children who are exposed to violence in the home experience so much added emotional stress that it can harm the development of their brains and impair cognitive and sensory growth
- There is a strong likelihood that this will become a continuing cycle of violence for the next generation
- Rates of abuse are higher among women whose husbands were abused as children or who saw their mothers being abused
So how can we help?
Children who are exposed to violence in the home, need help understanding domestic violence is wrong and learn non-violent methods of resolving conflict.
It is important children have a safe and secure home environment. They need to know that there are adults who will listen to them, believe them and shelter them.
And most importantly, it is the responsibility of us all, on behalf of these children to speak out, break the silence on domestic violence and give these children hope for their future.
If you feel inspired to speak out or learn more about domestic violence and the effects it has on children, you can fundraise today for a domestic violence charity to help spread their mission.