20 Jun


The effect of domestic violence on children and toddlers is far reaching than people are aware of. Domestic violence has long term effects on adults that witnessed abuse as a child.

1. Child abuse is not only about sexual abuse. Children who have witnessed domestic violence may suffer all kinds of traumatic disorders and nave negative developmental issues.

2. We can’t talk enough about the issue of child abuse because it assails our space every single day through the media or reports in our communities or office. This is a transcript of a tweeter learning chat that I held on the 19th of June, 2015 #ACTSGenChildAbuse and #ACTSGChildAbuse and #ACTSGenNo2Violence. +

3. I held a Child Abuse Seminar on the 11th June, 2016, on this issue, as well as the effect of sexual assault and preventive strategies and from the perspective of the male, parent and the spiritual.. Christianah Akindolie of Christianah Fate Foundation, Itoro Eze-Anaba and Pastor Wale Adefarasin facilitated on the other area. CD’s of this Seminar is available. Call the number for ACTS Generation below.+

4.     So let us start this session by defining what domestic violence is for clarity

5.     UNICEF (2006): defines domestic violence as “a pattern of assaultive and coercive behaviours including physical, sexual, to gain or maintain power and control. This includes behaviours that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure or wound someone. And these actions always affect children either observed or abused.

6.     Domestic violence is behaviour that is learned through observation and reinforcement in both the family and society.

7.     Domestic Violence scatters lives and can be traumatic for the children who live in it

8.     So what happens when children see, hear, feel, touch and smell violence in the family?

9.     Domestic violence creates some psychological problems in children and some then display negative attitudes to people around them.

10.   Children get hurt when they see their parents yelling at one another, and pushing or hitting themselves.

11.    1 in 5 women and nearly 1 in 7 men who ever experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner first experienced some form of intimate partner violence between 7 and 17 years of age.

12.    Statistics show that 10 – 20% of children are at risk for exposure to domestic violence

13.    In 38% of incidents of intimate partner violence, children under age 12 were residents in the household

14.    Child abuse occurs in 30 to 60% of family violence cases that involve families with children. In some cases, one or more children witnessed the death of their mother some are murdered as well.

15.   So how are children exposed and what are the real effects of domestic violence on them? They are affected by directly witnessing the abuse; suffering harm incidental to the abuse; being used as a spy; being forced to watch or participate in the abuse of the victim – this happens a lot. Being used by the abuser to manipulate the victim by threats of taking the children away.

16    Children who live with domestic violence face the risk of being neglected; loosing their home and probably living in a shelter or on the streets; being directly abused; loosing one or both their parents or death to themselves.

17.   Children exposed to domestic violence are likely to suffer from Biological, Social, Emotional, and/or Cognitive Development Problems.

18.  Biological Development Issues: Psychosomatic problems; Nightmares; eating and sleeping patterns are disrupted; bed-wetting; Gastrointestinal Problems; Nervousness; Depression; Anxiety and Stress Issues; Clinginess; Panic; They feel shame; easily irritated; turn to substance abuse; inability to regulate emotions; self-harming tendencies – hair-pulling, nail biting etc.; underdeveloped cortex. They also have a higher risk of becoming drug or alcohol abusers; or being involved in abusive relationships, as a batterer or a victim, and have suicidal thoughts as means of escape.

19.   Cognitive Behaviour: they have poor concentration and focus; low academic achievement and poor language skills; poor adaptation to learning environment, and lack conflict resolution abilities. They worry excessively, are confused most times, lie to cover up the abuse and probably early sexual activity and pregnancy; they fear making mistakes because they are used to being beaten for errors; overreact to non-threatening triggers; have difficulty with tasks requiring higher-order thinking skills; create rationalizations to justify abuse; disassociate from situation and are more focused on survival.

20.  Social Development: They fear being touched; unable to trust others; isolate themselves from others; lack peer relationships; have a strong desire to protect siblings; uncomfortable in social situations; disobedient most times, have low self-esteem; are hostile towards others; have oppositional behaviour; take on parent responsibilities. They are eager to please others, whilst they bully others or become victims of bullying. Inability to form stable relationship and compare themselves to others all the time.

21.   Emotional development: most times is impaired: negative self-concept; constantly afraid; feel insecure; feel unloved; jealous; anxious; they feel helpless; guilty; responsible; vengeful and resigned because they can do nothing to assist their mother, and their feelings of inadequacy turns into rage and is internalised and when triggered explodes.

22.   Unhealthy lessons learned from domestic violence by children are: – that violence and threats get you what you want; that a person has two choices – to be the aggressor or be the victim; that people who love you can also hurt you; that a person has two choices, either to be the aggressor or be the victim; that unhealthy, unequal relationships are normal or to be expected; that when people hurt others, they do not get in trouble for their behaviour.

23.   According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, it is possible for adverse childhood experiences such as abuse and neglect to influence their health and well-being throughout their life-span.

24.   Long Term Effects: Higher level of adult depression; High level of trauma symptoms; Increased tolerance for violence.

25.   For a child, the effect of domestic violence can last a lifetime with secondary effects of: anger, obesity, diabetes, cancer, murder, inability to handle emotions etc., COPD; animal abuse; asthma etc,

26.   Boys who witness their mother’s abuse are more likely to batter their female partners as adults than boys raised in non-violent homes.

27.   Girls who witness their mother’s abuse may grow to believe that threats and violence are the norm in relationships.

28.   Not all children exposed to domestic violence exhibit negative effects. Some use their situation as motivation to excel in life and have a determination not to be involved in violence and abuse of any kind towards their spouse.

29.   How to protect children from the effects of domestic violence: provide a safe and secure environment for them to grow; listen to them; teach them that violence is wrong even between siblings.

30.   The adult that a boy or girl will become depends on YOUR OWN behaviour. Search yourself. Are you bringing up your children properly – teaching them values and morals? How to treat girls/boys and how to handle their emotions without exploding into tantrums that are overlooked with a wave of the hand as ‘they are just kids’?

31.   IT SHOULD NOT HURT TO BE A CHILD! Give that child a home of love not of violence.

32.   A lot of emotionally abused children have grown up to be dysfunctional adults – husbands and leaders.

33.   If you find that you can;t control that anger or rage – seek help because THERE IS NO REASON TO USE VIOLENCE TO RESOLVE CONFLICT! NONE!

34.   If you find yourself staying in a volatile life threatening relationship, seek help or get out before you get killed. You are also abusing the children by exposing them to a continuous dehumanisation of your person by your spouse.

35.   Child abuse is a criminal offence. Protect that child and report any suspicion of child abuse – confidentiality is guaranteed. Domestic violence is a criminal offence also. The Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Acts of March 2015 is very clear on issues surround this. Read the full Act on our website – www.actsgeneration.org


  • …the CODE OF SILENCE and KEEPING IT IN THE FAMILY must stop. Report domestic violence and abuse of any kind. It   concerns you and I! 
  •   The measure of a man is what he does with what he has. A child is a gift – subjecting them to abuse of any kind, whether       physical or sexual, is a human right violation of the right of a child to being treated with care, love, respect and dignity.



– NIGERIAN POLICE: 0703-216-5181 
– ACTS Generation – Advocacy & Intervention: 0704-385-1725 or actsgeneration2007@gmail.com 


Laila St. Matthew-Daniel (Growth & Development Consultant/Gender Advocate – lailasmd@gmail.com) 

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