When thinking about domestic violence, especially from the standpoint of criminal charges, we typically think of it in terms of the perpetrator (the defendant) and the victim (the accuser). But domestic violence spares no one in the families where it happens, and there are other victims to consider. As many as 90 percent of domestic violence incidents are witnessed by the children in the home, and these children are also victims of the violence, even if they are not direct victims of child abuse.
Overall, the research is clear: Children caught in the storm of domestic violence typically carry the scars into adulthood, and the impacts frequently manifest in psychological and behavioral ways. The fact is, the children can’t help but be affected. The question is, how much does domestic abuse affect children? Does witnessing spousal abuse predetermine a child’s fate? Will they inevitably become either abusers or the abused in their adult relationships? Let’s look at this issue to see what we can learn.
The Psychological Impact of Witnessing Spousal Abuse