Domestic Violence and the Child’s Psychological Development

A look at the effects of domestic violence on a child’s psychological development.

This paper presents a comprehensive literature review of the effects of domestic violence on a child’s psychological development. The paper explores the symptoms of PTSD in children who are direct victims of violence or helpless bystanders to violence and discusses the impact of shelters on children. The paper considers the implications of these findings on children’s development and points out that children are forced to learn early lessons about loss, death, and body injury, children come to see the adults in their lives as unable to protect them, and children who witness violence experience overwhelming helplessness and often turn to aggression and hostility as a result.
`Violence has become a hallmark of American culture and society. The international image of the United States includes reports of tourists being murdered randomly in Florida, a young mother who killed her two young children, a society whose heroes include Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, and a society whose children know how and where to get guns. The crisis of violence in the United States has left few families untouched. Violence comes into living rooms via television. Increasingly, children are witnessing real-life violence, either in their homes or on the streets. This epidemic constitutes both a public health crisis (Koop, 1992) and a moral/philosophical crisis (Edelman, 1992).`