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Domestic violence : impact on children and young people

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Social Work
Wordcount: 3217 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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What is domestic violence ?


Where does this happen ?

Comparison between UK and Asian community lifestyle

Why does this occur ?

Ego, emotional problems, culture, lack of self control

How domestic violence takes place ?

Through sexual abuse, emotional and physical abuse, controlling to not to act in independent, discouraging from acting out the desire

Comparison between UK and Asian domestic violence.

What is the culture in UK

What is the culture in Asia

What is the impact on children and young people ?

emotional and education. (in general)



In UK (cases)

In Asia (cases)


In UK (cases)

In Asia (cases)



In UK (cases)

In Asia (cases)


In UK (cases)

In Asia (cases)

How is it dealt ?

In UK n Asia

What are the ways that it could be dealt ?

In a conclusion.

Introduction to domestic violence

Domestic violence is not a new issue in the culture of UK or Asia. It has been there for many years where the issue was whether it has been acknowledged or not. The word domestic appear to be violence in the context of of those who lived together, whereas violence from male partners often continues after women leaves. [1] The word violence should obviously indicate the physical abuse to anyone. However in domestic violence the victims go through a different form of abuse from their partners which not all are violent. [2] To see the context of domestic violence it includes direct violent and indirectly abusive behaviours such as physical, sexual, emotional and verbal abuse.

Though domestic violence does not have a clear definition of which gender does the abuse, it could be clearly seen in most cases and articles of scholars that the male are dominant in this issue. It could be catogarized that the perpetrators tend to be men and their victims usually women. [3] Domestic violence is violence or abuse from one adult to another that takes place within the context of a close relationship as intidimate partner or family members. [4] As it does include the family members as in like in-laws abusing besides the partner

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Children and young people gets the impact by going through the abuse at home as in a few occasions like the domestic violence perpetrator directly as in physically or sexually abuse the child, witnessing violence to their mother may have an abusive and detrimental impact on the child and also there are circumstances where the perpetrator may abuse the child as part of their violence against the women. [5] 

The main idea of this paper is to bring out the impacts that has been made to children and young people by the domestic violence where a brief comparison being made with UK and Asia. There are effects of them going through. It has also being discussed what are the solutions that has been made in both continents and what can be further done to reduce the impact that there unfortunates are going through. The issue dealt with are both emotional and education. The outcome of the domestic violence on these children. [6] 

Domestic violence can be described normally done on the partners yet the children subsequently being affected as in due to either being victimized directly or witnessing the domestic violence. Though it has been divided into two categories in the way which had affects the young people and children, the impact given does not differ much in nature of differentiation.

The impact being brought up in this dissertation is upon references on children and domestic violence have proved particularly beneficial for this thesis because they have conducted interviews with children as well as mothers [7] regarding the affects of domestic violence [8] upon them, an element of which many studies are flawed because of their reliance on mothers as the sole source of information. [9] 

Thanks to the resistance and knowledge given by the women’s movement, studies and research [10] 1112131415have began to recognise that those who have witnessed domestic violence in their homes, compared to those who have not, will more likely face detrimental challenges to their psychological and emotional well being, influencing their life patterns and behaviours.

Effect on Behaviours: Internalization and social learning theory

According to research, the effects of inter-partner violence witnessed by the child or young person can cause significant internalized behaviours, whereby the emotional and psychological effects of the violence have caused common problems including anxiety, [16] social withdrawal [17] and depression [18] for children and young people.

It is of our own ignorance that some people choose to presume that a child is ‘just’ being

quiet rather than experiencing significant stress and emotional problems (Calder 2004:57). It is this ignorance that increases the child’s felt isolation alongside their psychological and emotional disturbances. It is arguable that the lack of mature coping strategies a child has,

alongside the failure of others to recognise when a child needs help, is what puts them at

greater risk of experiencing such traumatic and indeed clinical behaviours. For example, Davis and Carlson (1987) [19] found in their study regarding children of ‘battered’ women that 68% of preschool children and 53% of school age children in their sample had depression that was of a clinical concern. [20] 

The internalised behaviours of depression, anxiety and social withdrawal are interestingly typical of what the abused mother (victim) often goes through (WHO 2000; Hester et al 2007; McCue 2008). According to the Home Office, 75% of domestic violence cases result in mental health consequences to women (Home Office, 2001). These behaviours are not surprising in relation the physical and emotional harm that domestic violence may cause. The victim may be fearful of when the man may next strike causing anxiety. Depression may come from thoughts and feelings that they can’t get themselves and their children out of the abusive home. Furthermore, the stress, anxiety and depression caused by their situation may lead them to avoid social environments, withdrawing themselves from anything which may lead them to be noticed, questioned, embarrassed or shamed.

One may question however, how do these behaviours in the child occur? When analysing the environment the child is subjected to, the reasons for why they may have symptoms of depression, anxiety and social withdrawal become apparent:


Constant reminders around their home may keep them anxious and fearful of when the violence may next occur; there may be broken furniture, blood stained carpets/walls as well as other reminders around the home, even cuts and bruises physically apparent on their parent, signifying the child’s lack of control (McGee 2000:62,66).


The child is silent and withdrawn. They will have learnt that silence and not being outspoken is the best way to behave if they don’t want to get beaten or they do not want to see or hear their mothers beaten (Appendix 1). This can be taught verbally and/or visually through associative learning means (Lieberman 2000:41-55). For example if they witness their father repeatedly violating their mother there are two responses; the mother stays quiet and does not respond-the consequence maybe that the father does not continue to be violent, the atmosphere may calm. The second response may consist of a volatile reaction from the mother, screams, shouts and/or crying-the consequence is that their father will continue to violate. Therefore the child learns and associates that being loud, outspoken and overtly emotional will increase the violence, so the child may become quiet and withdrawn with the hope that the violence will reduce.


The depression may stem from their insignificance, their silence, their feeling of powerlessness and the feelings of guilt for not protecting their mother. Feelings of powerlessness and guilt may increase the child’s emotional and psychological trauma, particularly if there are no significant internal or external supports. [21] 

We can apply these behaviours to social learning theory, which is based on the principle that behaviours observed as a young person will become learned and modelled as if the behaviour they have observed is the norm. [22] For example if the normal social behaviours of an abused mother in the home involve depression, anxiety, quietness, such behaviours are likely to be modelled by the child, because of their attachment (psychological, emotional and biological) but also because they haven’t had the opportunity to learn any other behaviours. Social learning can also be applied by observing an actual activity and seeing what it achieves which is sometimes referred to as associative learning. [23] For example, children and young people who internalise their behaviours may do so because they have learnt from their parents relationship that when the mother is quiet and withdrawn the abuse is less likely to occur.

A case study which demonstrates this kind of ‘social learning’ behaviour has been highlighted by a case brought forward to the Domestic Violence Integrated Response Project (DVIRP), a support network based in the East Midlands (UK) which offers supports including the ‘Break-Thru’ programme for children aged 7-16 years who have witnessed and or experienced domestic violence. An 8 year old boy was referred to the ‘Break-Thru’ programme for therapeutic sessions after he had witnessed domestic violence. He saw his father hit his mother on a weekly basis. If he attempted to intervene his father would hit him too. Due to this the boy ‘learned’ to stay upstairs where he would hear the abuse instead. This learning process is one which demonstrates the influence in staying quiet, withdrawing from difficult situations, as arguably this boy learnt that these internalized behaviours were the best way to act in order to reduce trouble.

But what about those children who model and socially learn from the perpetrator’s behaviour? There has been significant research carried out surrounding the ‘cycle of violence’ thesis and the social learning theory of aggressive behaviour [24] (Walker 1979; Straus 1990; Grusec 1992; Bandura 1997) because there is concern that children may learn from their parent, who is the perpetrator, that using such modes of behaviour is the only means of achieving what they want (Calder 2004:23).

3.4 Effects on behaviour: Externalization and social learning theory

A significant impact on children and young people who have witnessed domestic violence considers how the child’s experience influences their externalized behaviours. [25] highlight how all but one study examining impacts of domestic violence found that children who were exposed to domestic violence on a regular basis externalised significant behavioural problems, most commonly: aggressive, hostile, disruptive and anti- social behaviours compared to children from non-violent homes, similar to that of the perpetrator (in this case the father). However one must consider that the significance of such externalised behavioural problems demonstrated in these cases will vary according to support mechanisms in place during and post domestic violence and other situational circumstances at the time of the study. For example some children and mothers were placed in refuges at the time of the studies [26] where a sudden change of home, school, friendships and adjustment to refuge living were most probable and likely to affect their behaviours differently to those who still live with the perpetrator.

Historically scientists have questioned the motivation behind aggressive behaviour. Albert Bandura (1997) [27] , in particular, proposed a social learning theory that focuses on externalised aggressive behaviour and how it can be implanted by roots of observational learning. This theory considers that when children witness adults committing violent acts this will influence children to imitate or model this violent behaviour too (Myers 2008:352-353). Similar outcomes of observational learning have been found in other studies and research surrounding the effects of domestic violence upon behaviour.

The case study regarding the 8year old boy brought forward by DVIRP, as discussed previously, highlighted that the boy displayed externalised behaviours including anger for which he had no outlet; this resulted in him copying his father’s behaviour and being aggressive by hitting his mum and breaking household possessions (Appendix 1). This case, along with other such cases which are demonstrated through research by the likes of McGee (2000) [28] and Abrahams (1994) [29] , highlight that children’s role models (parents) do heavily influence behaviours; if the child had not witnessed his father’s violent behaviour he may not have externalised aggression, he may have been able to diffuse his anger through alternative methods.

Not only do such ‘learnt’ externalised behaviours affect familial relationships, it has been suggested that children living in homes with heightened hostility are likely to resolve their own interpersonal difficulties, for example with peers, by imitating and utilizing the modes of aggression and hostility they have picked up from the home (Straus 1990) [30] , thus potentially leading them into ‘drug and alcohol abuse, running away and juvenile delinquency’. [31] Delinquency was shown in its extreme form by the media attention that surrounded the Sheffield Crown Court case on the Edlington attack where grievous bodily harm with intent was committed by two brothers aged 10 and 11. The barrister on the case implied that the two boys may have learnt such extreme violence and criminal behaviour

from their parents. The barrister highlighted that the two boys had been subject to a ‘toxic’ home life as they witnessed extreme domestic violence in the home; for example they saw their father threaten to ‘slice their mothers face to bits with a knife’ (BBC News 21/1/2010). [32] 

On the contrary one must recognise that this case is an extreme form of externalization behaviour that has influenced a criminogenic life path, but there is no clear evidence to suggest the criminal acts carried out by the two boys were the sole consequences of learnt behaviour and such behaviours are not representative of all children who have been affected by witnessing domestic violence. However those who do exhibit hostile behaviours, whether it be on a low scale level or an extreme level are likely to affect important stages of their life, including the school learning process and involvement in peer socialisation; arguably two key aspects of developing ‘the self’ during childhood. [33] 

Alongside the effects of externalised behaviours as a young person, researchers have also paid close attention to the impact of domestic violence on children and young people as they make transitions into adulthood. Many studies have found evidence for the intergenerational ‘cycle of violence’ theory which argues that adults who externalize violent and abusive behaviour have most likely witnessed violent and abusive behaviour as children [34] 35

Impact on witnessing the domestic violence


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