27 June 2016

The impacts of domestic violence on children

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Leading up to what would have been her son’s 14th birthday, Australian of the year 2015 and domestic violence campaigner, Rosie Batty, urges the Australian government to revise the family law system to protect children from domestic and family violence.

With many incidents of domestic and family violence occurring in the family household, children are often witnesses of the abuse perpetrated against a member of their family, or they are victims themselves.

In AIFS Survey of Recently Separated Parents (De Maio et al., 2013), parents reported that 1,011 children had witnessed domestic violence before or during separation and 402 had witnessed domestic violence since separation.

Children can be indirectly affected by domestic violence seeing as ‘61% of women affected by domestic violence had children in their care when the violence occurred, including 48% who stated the children had seen and heard the violence’.

On the other hand, thousands of children are direct victims and suffer physically, psychologically and sexually as a result of acts of violence against them in the home.

What impact can domestic violence have on children?

Domestic violence can have a myriad of effects on children and young people, a few being:

  • PTSD and other types of trauma
  • Fearfulness, anxiety and a constant feeling of insecurity
  • Isolation and withdrawal
  • Dire need for attention and affection
  • Learning that violence can be a powerful tool to use in interpersonal relationships, and thus replicate the abusive behaviour
  • On the other hand, in future relationships they may expect that violence is the norm and accept it without demur 
  • Self-harm
  • Alcohol and drug abuse
  • Juvenile delinquency and adult criminality

The AIFS Survey of Recently Separated Parents (De Maio et al., 2013) also found that there were higher levels of behavioural problems in children aged between 1 and 3 years who had witnessed physical and/or emotional violence compared to children who had never witnessed violence.

Children between the ages of 5 and 17 who have been exposed to violence over an extended period of time were also faring worse in terms of schoolwork, peer relationships and overall wellbeing compared to children who had never witnessed violence.

It is crucial that we address this critical issue of domestic violence in Australia soon to protect our children from further unnecessary harm.

Last year, Prime Minister Turnbull committed $100 million to the cause; this was dwarfed by the Victorian government’s pledge of $572 million in response to the Royal Commission into Family Violence. This funding provides the opportunity for significant change and improvement of DFV services. Akolade’s 2nd Breaking the Cycle of Domestic & Family Violence Conference, which will be held in Melbourne on 27th – 29th September, provides a timely opportunity to explore practical strategies and innovations for front-line services.

Being brought up in a typical Chinese family in Australia, Vivian takes pride as an ABC (Australia-born Chinese) where she happily embraces both the Chinese and Australian cultures. 

In high school, Vivian wanted to become a fashion designer, however she has developed a passion for running events after working backstage for multiple live shows. Prior to starting at Akolade, Vivian worked 4 years in the wine industry and she misses the wine tasting sessions and openly drinking on the job. As the Marketing Coordinator, Vivian enjoys using her creativity to design unique and fun campaigns for each event. In her spare time, Vivian loves to spend time with her two adorable pets; a cat and a dog. 

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