Psychology Issues: Family Violence Effects on Children


Such a problem as family violence is of great concern to many professionals such as educators, law-enforcement officers, counselors, and so forth. This paper is aimed at discussing the effects of family violence on children. In particular, it is important to examine the risks to which they are exposed. Moreover, one should identify the factors that can mitigate the effects of family violence.

This topic is important due to several reasons. It should be noted that “between 3.3 and 10 million children” can be affected by domestic abuse (McCue, 2008, p. 22). Therefore, the scale of this issue is one of the reasons why it should not be overlooked. Additionally, one should keep in mind that these children can struggle with various emotional and behavioral problems for a long time.

Overall, it is possible to argue that family violence can significantly impair the long-term development of a child; these consequences can manifest themselves long after the actual exposure to this abuse.

Nevertheless, there are several mitigating factors such as coping skills of a child and the presence of an adult who a child can trust. In turn, the knowledge of these issues is necessary for helping such people. These are the main questions that should be examined in greater detail.

The adverse impacts of family violence

It should be noted that the term family violence includes various components. In particular, one should not speak only about the use of physical force. Much attention should also be paid to psychological abuse and threats (Summers & Hoffman, 2002, p. 40). In many cases, this abusive behavior can produce even more detrimental effects on the psychological state of a child.

One should bear in mind that children do not always become direct victims of violence. Nevertheless, even the observation of such behavior can adversely impact a child.

This is one of the aspects that should be taken into account. It is also necessary to mention that family violence is a continuous phenomenon that can last for many years (Summers & Hoffman, 2002). So, adolescents can also be affected by it. This is why this abuse becomes so dangerous. Moreover, the impacts of domestic violence can permanently transform the inner world of a person.

The risks associated with family violence have been examined in various studies. For example, Jerome Kolbo (1996) notes that exposure to domestic abuse is associated with low self-esteem among boys. Moreover, this problem leads to behavior problems among girls (Kolbo, 1996, p. 122). Therefore, it is critical to remember that the impact of family violence on children can be partially determined by gender.

Additionally, it is important to mention that these children can have problems with anger regulation when they become adults (Houltberg, Henry, & Morris, 2012). Overall, the retrospective research shows that people, who could observe family violence as children, were more likely to display aggression (McCue, 2008, p. 24). Sometimes, they can become bullies in school (Allen, 2013, p. 119).

Similarly, they can act violently when they become spouses or parents. Researchers speak about such a phenomenon as “intergenerational cycle of domestic violence” (Allen, 2013, p. 119). One of the main problems is that violence can become acceptable or even commonplace for such people. They do not regard it as something that should not be tolerated. Very often, they can use physical force as a method of resolving conflicts (Houltberg, et al. 2012).

Thus, they can pose a threat to other people. This is one of the risks that should be overlooked. Therefore, it is critical to breaking this vicious cycle since it can adversely influence a great number of people. This is one of the main aspects that can be singled out.

There are several emotional problems that can be encountered by children. Much attention should be paid to anxiety, anger, and confusion (Thornton, 2014, p. 95). One should remember that they can blame themselves for the conflicts between parents. Furthermore, these children can be overwhelmed by the feeling of helplessness because they believe that no one can give them assistance.

This argument is particularly relevant if one speaks about children who cannot communicate with other relatives. As a result, they can be exposed to the risks of depression. Moreover, these children may find it more difficult to establish relations with their peers who do not understand the nature of their emotional problems. In many cases, they prefer to interact only with their siblings since these people can empathize with their experiences.

Apart from that, some of them are less likely to show empathy for other people (Allen, 2013, p. 119). Their problems can become particularly evident when a person, who passes into adulthood. Very often, such individuals may require psychological assistance, even though they were exposed to domestic violence many years ago. These are some of the details that should be taken into consideration by therapists who try to assist such patients.

Additionally, it is important to remember that some children, who are exposed to domestic abuse, can be made more vulnerable due to other risk factors such as poverty (Fantuzzo et al., 2007, p.337). Therefore, the needs of these children should be given more attention. Apart from that, the presence of other stressors can significantly aggravate the effects of exposure to family violence (Fantuzzo et al., 2007, p.337).

For instance, it is possible to speak about bullying in school. Therefore, these children can be exposed to multiple threats simultaneously. This is one of the main issues that can be identified. Very often, children, who become victims of domestic violence, feel disempowered (Thornton, 2014). They believe that their voice is of no concern to other people. Additionally, these children tend to distrust other adults.

In turn, educators and social workers should understand the peculiarities of their worldviews; otherwise, they may find it difficult to find an approach to these students. Thus, these examples demonstrate the dangers of family abuse to children and even people who are directly related to the family. This is one of the main details that can be distinguished.

There are several factors that can minimize the negative effects of family violence. For example, one should speak about the ability of a child to discuss his/her emotional problems with other adults (Thornton, 2014, p. 90). As a rule, such children become committed to a victimized parent.

These ties are critical for the emotional safety of children. Sometimes, the relationship with peers can also become one of the positive factors that positively affect the experiences of children who are influenced by domestic violence. Moreover, a child can overcome the effects of domestic violence, if he/she has coping skills.

For instance, one can speak about such qualities as flexibility, empathy, or sense of humor (McCue, 2008, p. 25). Nevertheless, it is critical to assist a child in developing these skills. On whole, the study of these mitigating factors is critical for educators and social workers.

It should be noted that the effects of family violence on children have yet to be examined thoroughly, and currently, many researchers attempt to examine the way in which domestic abuse manifests itself in families representing different cultures (Fontes, 2005, p. 45). Therefore, one should understand how family violence influences children who grow up in different cultural environments (Fontes, 2005, p. 45).

This example is useful because it demonstrates this topic has many aspects that should be examined more closely. At present, these issues continue to attract the attention of many scholars. The main problem is that many children, adolescents, and adults are reluctant to speak about their experiences. This is one of the difficulties that researchers often face while trying to implement the studies related to this topic.


The research of this topic has significant implications for many people for many professionals. For instance, one should first mention family practitioners who are supposed to help children. In particular, their task is to enable such children to develop coping skills. Additionally, understanding of these issues can be important for educators and social workers.

These professionals should be able to recognize the emotional and behavioral problems associated with family violence. Additionally, parents should be aware of these issues, because they should know how their behavior can influence the experiences of a child. In particular, they should bear in mind that continuous conflicts or the use of force can harm several generations of people. These are some of the main points that can be made.

Additionally, these studies are important for developing intervention programs that are supposed to benefit children or adolescents whose life was impaired by domestic abuse (Graham-Bermann, 2000). Secondly, this knowledge is important for restoring the lives of families.

In turn, counselors, who work on such tasks, should understand the experiences of children. These practitioners should rely on evidence-based models or interventions that can assist these people (Graham-Bermann, 2000). In this way, they can better assist such patients. This is one of the main benefits that can be distinguished.

Thus, it is possible to say that understanding of this topic has significant practical implications, and they can benefit many people who represent various age groups. This is why this topic should not be overlooked by scholars.


On the whole, the examples discussed in this paper indicate that the effects of family violence can significantly transform the experiences of children. In particular, he/she can struggle with emotional problems such as anxiety, anger, or depression. More importantly, such individuals can perceive violence as acceptable. Admittedly, there are some forces which can reduce the negative influence of domestic abuse.

For instance, one can speak about a positive relationship with an adult who can feel empathy for a child. Understanding of these issues is important for educators, social workers, and counselors who need to assist people who cope with the consequences of domestic abuse. These are the main arguments that can be put forward.

Reference List

Allen, M. (2013). Social Work and Intimate Partner Violence. New York, NY: Routledge.

Fantuzzo, J., Fusco, R., Mohr, W., & Perry, M. (2007). Domestic Violence and Children’s Presence: A Population-based Study of Law Enforcement Surveillance of Domestic Violence. Journal of Family Violence, 22(6), 331-340.

Fontes, L. (2005). Child Abuse and Culture: Working with Diverse Families. New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Graham-Bermann, S. A. (2000). Evaluating Interventions for Children Exposed to Family Violence. Journal Of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 4(1), 191-215.

Houltberg, B. J., Henry, C. S., & Morris, A. S. (2012). Family interactions, exposure to violence, and emotion regulation: Perceptions of children and early adolescents at risk. Family Relations, 61(2), 283-296.

Kolbo, J. R. (1996). Risk and resilience among children exposed to family violence. Violence and Victims, 11(2), 113-28.

McCue, M. (2008). Domestic Violence: A Reference Handbook. New York, NY: ABC-CLIO.

Summers, R., & Hoffman, A. (2002). Domestic Violence: A Global View. New York, NY: Greenwood Publishing Group.

Thornton, V. (2014). Understanding the emotional impact of domestic violence on young children. Educational & Child Psychology, 31(1), 90-100.