The impact that domestic abuse has on a family is a serious issue to consider as it can inflict both physical and emotional harm on its victims. People who have been targets of domestic abuse are known to possess aggressive behaviors, symptoms of depression, anxiety and emotional distress. Studies have shown that children who have been abused seem to have lower levels of empathy, self-esteem and reduced social skills as compared to children who have not had to deal with any sort of abuse.This often leads to the child growing up to repeat patterns of abuse, thus starting the cycle all over again within their own family. It also affects the child’s ability to perform academically and solve problems.
Domestic abuse can also have serious impacts on unborn children. If a mother is physically abused while pregnant, they run the high risk of having children born with birth defects, complications during pregnancy, even miscarriage. According to Webster, Chandler and Battista it is highly common for both miscarriage and abortion to take place in abused women.
There is also a significant amount of still-born babies born to women who have a history of both short term and long term abuse (760-767). The fact that any abused women choose to abort their unborn babies shows that they are not stable enough to raise children and know that the child would be born into an unhealthy environment. This can be seen to affect the family as a whole in that it is a very traumatic experience for all members, no matter what age. In most cases, a male family member, be it a father, uncle, older brother or cousin, is the abuser.This masculine threat can cause all other members of the family to become very fearful, even those within the family who are not direct victims of abuse. Most of the times, family members whom re aware of abuse taking place within the family are too scared or do not have the power to put an end to it. These families appear to be very close knitted as the dominant attacker instills a sense of fear so deep that it causes the weaker members to stick together, appearing to be one happy family.However, individuals who have suffered some sort of abuse are not in fact happy, they have been known to show signs of depression.
Within a family, if a parent is depressed, it could have bad impacts on their children. Mustiest et al state that children who have depressed parents are more likely to display signs of Attention Deficit Disorder, be on psychotropic medications and have other psychological disorders (176). This can lead to the children becoming depressed themselves which has adverse effects on their school work, social interactions and motivation to succeed.In addition, children who have to deal with a depressed parent due to abuse are forced to grow up ahead of their time. More than likely, the eldest child has to assume the responsibilities of taking care of the younger children, making sure that things around the house are taken care of and sometimes making money. This causes the child to lose out on important experiences as a child. More often than not, once affected by some sort of domestic abuse, it can be very hard to overcome these adverse effects.It has been seen that many abused persons who have survived are incapable of forming healthy relationships with other people and can turn to drugs to cope with their insecurities, suicidal thoughts and depression.
As such, it takes many years of continued support by professionals and compassionate family members for a survivor to overcome the great impact that abuse has on him/her. Survivors of abuse constantly live in fear that their attacker might reappear, and may spend a lot of time running from their abusers.