The Huffington Post
By Melissa Jeltsen
September 30, 2016
Witnessing violence can be intensely traumatic for kids, especially for those who see it happen over and over. It can affect a child’s development to have his or her brain in a constant state of heightened stress, explained Jack Shonkoff, director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. They inevitably have trouble learning, are subject to chronic disease and don’t live as long.
These same children also carry a heavy burden of guilt and shame, according to Liz Roberts, deputy CEO at Safe Horizon, a nonprofit that works with domestic violence victims in New York City. They may believe that they caused the violence, or that they should have been able to stop it.
Some kids may even start to mimic the abusive parent’s behavior as they get older, becoming aggressive and bullying their peers. Boys are more likely to be violent with their partners when they start to date, Roberts said, and girls are at an increased risk of becoming victims of that abuse.
So the cycle continues, ad infinitum. Domestic violence is passed from generation to generation. Approximately 3.3 million to 10 million children in the U.S. are exposed to domestic violence every year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 4 women will be a victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in her lifetime, making it a grave public health issue.