Kids victims even when not witness to violence

Dr Alan Campbell (Research Fellow School of Occupational Therapy and Social Work)
Dr Alan Campbell (Research Fellow School of Occupational Therapy and Social Work)

The research fellow in the School of Occupational Therapy and Social work shared his thoughts on domestic and family violence.

How do you define domestic violence?

Definitions have changed radically from 10 years ago. Our definition of domestic abuse is now far wider and acknowledges the more subtle and sometimes unobservable behaviours of a violent person. We now think of violence as having many facets to it, including emotional, financial, social, sexual, psychological and verbal abuse alongside the overt physical abuse that has been acknowledged for years.

Is it always men or do women engage in domestic violence too?

Some women do but they are in the minority. Research suggests that domestic violence is related to issues of power and control, and to the beliefs of men who are violent that they are entitled to keep their house in order, to have their partner look after them and to ensure that children are ‘kept in their place’. Men are also, to a great extent, physically stronger than women and able to wield their power through their physical presence. This creates a significant difference between the numbers of men and women who are violent.

How does domestic violence between a husband and wife affect their children?

Significantly. Even when children are not present during violent episodes, they are affected. Often they’re aware something is happening, or has happened. They feel tensions in the house; see broken items and bruises; they sense when their mother is less attentive to them and can pick up on small changes in the way in which their parents are relating to them and to each other. Children present when violence occurs can feel frightened, want to protect their mother, and sometimes can get hurt as a result, often feel helpless and sometimes guilty about the violence.