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Effects of Domestic Violence Crime on Children

On Behalf of | Nov 6, 2015 | Domestic Violence

Getting arrested for domestic violence assault or any crime designated as assault is frightening. Washington takes domestic violence very seriously. Not only are you facing the usual jail time and fines you would face for any crime. You may also be facing a mandatory treatment program, extra fines plus the stigma that a domestic violence brings from others including family and friends. If there were children involved it gets even scarier as you wonder how the state will handle that and whether you may lose your children. You will need someone to hear your story, counsel you as to your best defense strategy and fight to get you your best result possible.

If the children are suspected to be victims of the violence then it is obvious that the state will take this seriously. But, even if they were never the victims, but rather only witnesses it will still cause complications and may threaten your custody. This is due to the effects that just being a witness to domestic violence has been shown to cause in children. There are emotional, physical, developmental and behavioral effect that have been shown through statistics to be very high in children that witness domestic violence.

Infants and toddlers will live in constant fear and will also be very afraid to be left alone. They will also tend to have very high irritability. As they get older they probably will start blaming themselves and live in perpetual guilt and anxiety over something that is in no way their fault. Teenagers are generally also ashamed of their situation though they will realize it’s not their fault. They will get very secretive and have a very difficult forming close relationships of any kind. Besides these emotions it is very common for children of all ages who witness domestic violence to frequently feel both rage and humiliation. As you can see, witnessing domestic violence is very emotionally and psychologically damaging on children.

Even children that are not directly physically harmed by domestic violence can still be physically harmed. They have sleep issues because they’re afraid. Quite often they get stomachaches and headaches due to the constant stress of living with domestic violence. Both of these can lead to even more severe symptoms such as ulcers. There are also studies showing that quite often domestic violence will cycle down to the children sometimes even from the original victim. Of course, domestic violence meted out on the children would have its own physical effects.

Witnessing domestic violence can also stunt the maturation process. Infants and toddlers may have trouble with toilet training or may regress back to a level they had previously mastered. Quite often it will also make speech hard to learn as well as walking and even eating by themselves. As they get older it usually forces them to be naturally withdrawn – sometimes they’ll become the bully, other children will continue to be the victim as they are bullied. In both cases, school and social life are both harmed and the child’s development is slowed if not stopped. Some grow up to never be able to form a meaningful relationship as they just don’t have the mental faculties for such.

As you can imagine, the child’s behavior can also be affected by witnessing domestic violence. They will seek outside approval and attention from adults as they may feel they get none at home. Of course, if they are or feel like they are rejected by those adults also they will be devastated. Even worse is if they attach themselves to the wrong adult which can cause further tragedies. They will also have difficulty expressing anger appropriately and may believe that violence is the answer – after all, it’s what they’ve seen. It has been shown that many child witnesses of domestic violence grow up to commit domestic violence themselves.

These are the reasons that Washington takes domestic violence so seriously and especially when there is any child involvement. But it is understood that there are false accusations plus there is counseling to be recommended. You will get legal guidance to help with this situation when you hire from Smith & White, PLLC for your Seattle Tacoma domestic violence criminal defense attorney – the first consult is free.