Are domestic violence abusers more likely to have abused history in their childhood?

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Childhood abuse and neglect have numerous consequences on the behavioral development of children. Some of the behaviors persist to adult and influence the probability of abused and neglected children to become perpetrators of domestic violence on their spouses. Numerous scholars and psychologists have researched the topic. In various research reports, the studies contend that the behaviors of children are an outward manifestation of their inner stability and security. Any form of abuse of children affects their growth by damaging various aspects of their development including emotional, physical and psychological development (Dube, Anda & Felitti, 2001). Such abuses are likely to cause difficulties in the behavioral and mental health development of the children. The studies thus show that people who endured abuses and neglect in their childhood are most likely to become perpetrators of domestic violence.

Amy, Karen & Kris (2007) argue that exposure to abuse and neglect in childhood affects behaviors, values, and temperament among other critical psychological factors of a person even in adulthood. Their study established that children who either witnessed violence or were victims of violent abuses in their childhood grow up to become violent offenders. Such people are most likely to direct violence either to their families or others. First, exposure to violence affects the emotional stability of children. Such children are most likely to have violent emotional outbursts and cannot rationalize situations thus seek alternative conflict resolution measures. In adulthood, victims of child abuse and neglect are most likely use violence as a means to resolving their domestic problems.

Furthermore, such people are most likely to inherit unique values like patriarchal mindsets that dehumanize women and condescending to the children thus the preference of violence as means to engage their families among other people in their immediate social circles. The scholars employed longitudinal analysis on a sample of more than two hundred men on probation. The analysis revealed that those who witnessed domestic violence were more likely to become violent offenders than those who did not report witnessing any violence in their childhood (Ali, Aslihan & Yasemen, 2011). However, respondents who witnessed domestic violence and were victims of childhood violence and even neglect had the highest frequency of recidivism on violent offenses in their families.

Domestic violence has hereditary tendencies since it has immense psychological effects of both the witnesses and victims (Drew, Arthur & Steve, 2016). Abusive couples are always reckless enough to expose their children to varying forms of violence. Some parents fight and abuse each other in the presence of their children. In some strange cases, the parents involve their children in their squabbles thereby forcing the children to take sides depending on their favorite parent. As the children witnesses the prevalence of domestic abuse in their families and neighborhoods, they grow up with specific traits that show their affinity to use violence in resolving problems. The inherent lack of emotional security and stability because of the exposure to such violence further affects their growth.

Besides witnessing violence, another category of children becomes victims of domestic violence. Such children endure both physical and verbal abuses from their parents who resort to such means to correct their mistakes. Some parents find it easy to beat up their children or use obscenities as punishments to various wrongdoings. Directing abuses at children have diverse effects. First, flogging which is the most common type of violence children endure causes physical injury (Fujiwara, Okuyama & Izumi, 2012).

Studies have reported that some parents beat their children excessively thereby causing scratches on the skin and fractures of bones. Hitting has equally numerous psychological effects on the growth and development of a child. Hitting devalues children. Self-image originates from how children believe that others perceive him or her. Parents constitute the most significant social circle to a child. Spanking even in the most loving families send mixed signals to the children thus causing confusion in the development of self-image. The case worsens with the increase in the severity of the beating.

More importantly, flogging models flogging and may lead to abuse. Beating a child demonstrates to the victim that it is right to hit others especially for parents to beat their children and strong people to beat weak people (Drew, Arthur & Steve, 2016). Children acquire social values and skills from their parents. In his theory of psychological development, Erik Erikson outlines nine stages that characterize the growth and development of a child to adulthood. At every stage, a child acquires a trait that is integral to their success in subsequent steps.

The first phase develops hope in a child as the child gains either trust or mistrust. A child must learn to trust his or her parents among others who form the family. Beating a child leads to the development of mistrust thereby affecting the psychological growth of the child. In subsequent stages, children who witness and endure violence are likely to develop shame and self-doubt, guilt, inferiority, role confusion and isolation in early adulthood. Such antisocial traits ultimately turn such children into violent and abusive spouses and parents.

The existing literature has attempted to cover substantial aspects of the problem. Some of the areas covered include the differences in the topology of abuses, violent behavior and survival pattern, recidivism and patterns of recurrence among others. Such comprehensive analysis of the problem reveals that exposing children to abuse and neglect is likely to have long-term effects on their growth and development. Growing up in a violent environment forces children to witness and even endure the violence. The children in such cases experience stunted psychological growth and adopt violent traits in their adulthood. However, the researchers could not carry out an elaborate study to follow children who endure abuse and neglect into their adulthood. The time constraint of such a study remains overwhelming even to contemporary scholars. Most utilized longitudinal analyses and self-administered questionnaires to trace the history of abusive parents and criminals serving probation or prison terms for various types of domestic violence.

Summarily, adverse childhood experiences characterized by domestic violence and neglect have a direct relationship to domestic violence in adulthood. Exposing children to violence either as witnesses or as victims influence their development and have lasting effects on their psychology and mental stability even in adulthood. Such children are most likely to transform into abusive parents who will use violence against their spouses and prefer violence as a mode of punishing their children. The hereditary nature of domestic violence arises from the role that parents and families play in the growth and development of children. The adverse childhood experiences lead to the development of dysfunctional personalities in adulthood. They are also predisposing factors to crime, mental health problem, and even suicide among others.

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  1. Ali, C., Aslihan, i. & Yasemen, T. (2011). The Correlation of Childhood Physical Abuse History and Later Abuse in a Group of Turkish Population. Journal of Interpersonal Violence.
  2. Amy, M., Karen, C. & Kris, H. (2007). Characteristics of Domestic Violence Offenders: Associations with Childhood Exposure to Violence. Journal of Family Violence.
  3. Drew, F., Arthur, C. & Steve, M. (2016). Exposure to violence, typology, and recidivism in a probation sample of domestic violence perpetrators. Child Abuse & Neglect, 59:66-77.
  4. Dube, S., Anda, R. & Felitti, V. (2001). Childhood Abuse, Household Dysfunction, and the Risk of Attempted Suicide Throughout the Life Span: Findings From the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study.
  5. Fujiwara, T., Okuyama, M. & Izumi, M. (2012). The impact of childhood abuse history, domestic violence and mental health symptoms on parenting behavior among mothers in Japan. Child Care Health Dev.
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