Domestic Violence Not Just a Private Matter.

According to a new study, children who are exposed to domestic violence don’t perform as well in school:

The costs of this dysfunction are even more profound. Kids exposed to domestic violence definitely do have lower reading and math scores and greater disciplinary problems.”

Even worse, it seems there’s a ripple effect as the study also discovers a negative academic impact on kids who have contact with kids who have been exposed to domestic violence:

But the effects of this dysfunction are not limited to the direct victims of this violence: kids exposed to kids exposed to domestic violence also have lower test scores and more disciplinary infractions.”

So it appears that domestic violence reverberates far beyond the home in which it takes place. Perhaps concern for kids’ academic performance will succeed where compassion and decency have failed in bringing about a society free of domestic violence.


13 thoughts on “Domestic Violence Not Just a Private Matter.

  1. I’m writing a thesis right now on the effects of domestic violence on children, and I’m wondering if you can provide any information about the picture you used on your site (of a child watching the shadows of her parents fight).

    Do you know the name of this piece or the artist?


  2. One more thing, as illusive as it may sound, ‘research shows’ that the effect of domestic violence on women is far reaching, while men who are victims of domestic violence suffer much much less, with most being able to deal with it quickly and efficiently. It’s women who usually go through PTSD, dependency on dangerous addictions, low self esteem, prolonged poor mental health and so on.


  3. Thanks for your response.

    You are lost 🙂

    I, in any way, do not mean that it’s okay to abuse children under any circumstances. That being said, let me try and explain what I intended to mean.

    If you’re a woman being abused, you are likely to go through a myriad of issues involving your emotional, physical and even sexual health. You are living (even if by choice, which seems like an important issue in this discussion) in fear, you’re not happy, you are trying to deal with it. People go crazy if the love leaves the marriage – imagine abuse entering it on top of that. Imagine you have no social network/support because your abusive husband has alienated you from everyone, you’ve invested the last 10 years of your life in a marriage and you want to keep working at it because you don’t want to waste the last 10 years of your life, you don’t want to be a failure. At one one point you even believe that you deserve the abuse, it’s fate at best, your fault at worst. Imagine that you have kids who’re growing up watching you being degraded, dehumanized – God knows what they’re learning. Even if you don’t want to believe it, you know they’re learning that it’s okay to beat people, throw them around. You hear complaints about them in school becasue they’ve become bullies. No surprise there. He just plays out his situation at home at school. You’re unhappy and uncared for, you don’t know what normal life is anymore and you will bicker and you bitch and you’re beaten up. And you try to hit back and abuse your husband in return, but of course he’s not phased by it,he only hits you more. Your attempts at making his life miserable doesn’t really work becuase he’s out all day, probably having and affair while you take care of his shit at home. When he comes back, he’s drunk and abusive and so goes on life. It’s fate, after all. You are too old to leave, too poor to sustain on your own, and if you’re from somewhere else, your language barriers prevent you from seeking the help that you need. But you have kids to think of. What will they think? How can they live in a place other than their own home? No matter that they are silent sufferers of the war at home, no matter that they’ve already been exposed to things that they should not have been exposed to, no matter, you’re really hurting yourself by staying. But see, you can’t leave. Your dependency won’t let you. Your low self esteem that your husband that made you believe in, will prevent you from surviving without him. He has somehow managed to convince you that on your own, you are nobody. You shout everytime you see him, you nag, you fight, you bicker, you insult and then you pay for it when he beats you to a pulp, knowing that you have no where else to go.

    By all that, all I mean to say is that – when you’re being abused, you’re not yourself anymore. Abused women are very likely to strike back at their husbands, being abusive to them – in all ways possible. It may not be the right thing to do, but it’s all they have. So if abused women are attacked for being abusive themselves, that’s just unfair.

    As for Shagnaz – she didn’t say whether she was abused, but that her mother was abusive. It wasn’t clear to me whether she was abusive to her dad or to her. But eitherway, whether or not she abused them directly – they were witnessing abuse, and the effect of witnessing abuse is almost as bad as being directly abused. Or so says the literature.


  4. If you have access, check this out:

    It explains some of the reasons why women remain/return to abusive households. I think it’s important that people understand that perspective. Returning to an abusive partner does not necessarily mean she condones the violence.

    Children are in an unfortunate situation when parents are involved in dv EVEN if they are not directly abused (emotionally, physically or otherwise). Indirect abuse is enough to have life long repercussions. No one has the right to abuse ANYONE.


  5. perspective,

    I’m lost. Sorry.

    Are you saying that if you were a woman who felt compelled to stay in an abusive marriage, you’d be verbally and physically abusive towards your kids too? And by compelled, do you mean forced to stay against your will by virtue of the husband’s violence or constrained to stay because of social, economic, or other reasons?

    I think this is a very important conversation and I don’t want to lose your point.

    Thanks for participating.


  6. While my father was physically abusive and a general prick, on the other hand, my mother was no different- she engaged in physical, verbal, emotional abuse.

    As infantile as it may sound, ‘he started it’ would apply here. If I were the mother who felt compelled to stay in the marriage, I would probably be the same. Not to excuse her, but to point out that – there WILL be repercussions if oyou’re a wife beater – whether or not the woman remains in the relationship. If she leaves, there will be legal issues, if the police gets involved; and if she stays, she won’t be much fun to live with.

    My 2 cents.


  7. perspective,

    Thanks for your comment. Your points are well taken, but I hope you don’t really think I think women stay in abusive relationships because they enjoy it or because they’re masochists.

    If you reread Shag’s comment, you’ll see that she’s not speaking of her mother as a victim but as an abuser. The important point—in response to your comment—is that while women are definitely perpetrators of domestic violence, it is usually targeted against their kids (as in Shag’s case). Male abusers, on the other hand, abuse their spouses and their children.

    So men are definitely at the top of the domestic-abuse pecking order because they can abuse their spouses and children.

    I’m sure I’m going to get a spate of anecdotes from people who know some guy whose wife used to beat him, etc. but the exception does not make the rule: in the majority of cases, men are at the center of domestic abuse.


  8. What perspective? That the abused mother ‘enjoyed living in a state of violence’? She may be your mother, Shag, and you may know her better than most people, but you are speaking from the biased viewpoint of a child who experience indirect abuse (which is hard, I admit and exposure to violence as a child has huge, often fatal repercussions). Do you not think that your father had the SAME responsibility of providing you and your siblings with a violence-free childhood. Your mother stuck through – and there may be ToNS of reasons for her to do so – raising kids on your own is not the easiest thing in the world, she may not have had a job or the capability of getting a job that would provide for all of you, perhaps she even loved your father and wanted/hoped he wouldn’t abuse her. Please don’t put in your ‘child’s perspective’ and gather evidence to popularize the narrow-minded oft-thought of reason as to why women stya in abusive relationships: 1. because they enjoy it 2. because they’re masochistic. That’s just plain wrong. Just as it’s wrong of you to blame your mother for the violence she tolerated.


  9. Hmmm, you all forgot that violence doesn’t just come from men, but from women too. While domestic violence has largely come from men, I think we are missing the point to assume that it is a male issue. Women also can and do engage in domestic violence, emotional abuse, and so on. The only reason why we all harp on male violence because it is sociall acceptable to comment on this problem, while neglecting the fact that it takes two to tango.

    I came from a abusive household so I know what I’m talking about. While my father was physically abusive and a general prick, on the other hand, my mother was no different- she engaged in physical, verbal, emotional abuse. However, the difference is that with most stereotypes, it is the men that get blamed for the majority of family violence, when in fact, women are also engaging in similar behavior, but get overlooked, because they are supposedly the “victims” of male violence.

    I don’t think my mother was a victim because she chose to stay with my father despite repeated offers of help and knowing full well what the eventual outcome of living with my father would be. Moreoever, she was abusive towards us, and if you are a mother or a father and in an abusive relationship, you’d do everything in your power to cut off those ties and give your children a better and safer standard of living. My mother didn’t do any of this and it makes me believe that she rather enjoyed living in a state of violence and infliction her violence on to others because of her own low self-esteem and confidence.


  10. absolutely,

    I agree entirely.

    Part of the problem with DV is that many people still see the home as a “private sphere,” a castle in which every man can be a king. There’s even a saying to that effect: a man’s home is his castle. Well, there’s a reason we got rid of kings and castles ages ago—no man should be allowed to behave as though there are no consequences to his actions.

    Now that research is showing that the consequences for a man’s violent actions reverberate far beyond his castle, perhaps people will rethink this whole “private sphere” nonsense.


  11. What I find interesting (and sad) is the relationship between violence at home and violence in school. It turns out (and studies are ongoing) that children from violent families are prone to being bullies, and the tendency comes from being insecure and powerless.

    At the same time, children who grow up in violent families in turn create violence-prone families of their own – it’s all about conditioning.

    I don’t and I don’t think I ever will understand men who don’t know how to settle an argument/grievance without using his knuckles (not to mean that physical violence is the only kind of dv – domestic violence includes emotional, financial etc), but I would think that a man is likely have severe unresolved personal ‘issues’ if he cannot deal with problems in a civilized manner. He doesn’t just need punishment, he also needs treatment.


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