Domestic violence against mothers also has a negative impact on children and adolescents who grow up in such families. Even if they themselves do not get beaten, they live in an atmosphere of anxiety that shapes the way they deal with violence at a later age.
When fights, threats, fear, and beatings dominate the children’s everyday life and when they consider their home unsafe, this will leave a mark on their personality development. There are a variety of immediate consequences: Problems at school, bed-wetting, sleep disorders, headaches, fits of rage, eating disorders, or retarded speech development.
When children experience violence against their mothers, this also increases the risk that they themselves will have problems in dealing with violence at adult age. In many cases, they likewise tend to act violently towards their partners.
Abused mother often assume that their children do not notice the violence. But the children and adolescents do witness the domestic violence. They have a grasp of the situation and sense its effects. Occasionally, they also experience neglect and feel overwhelmed.
Youth welfare organisations in Germany regard the situation of children who witness violence between partners as increasingly endangering the child’s well-being. In order to intervene effectively in violent situations, youth welfare organisations have to work more closely together with organisations that support women who are affected by violence. Their common concern should be an improved integration of the protection of women against violence with child protection in cases of violence. Affected children in women’s shelters and specialised counselling centres are in need of gender-specific and age-specific service offers that help them cope with their experiences of violence.
Heynen, Susanne; Zahradnik, Frauke: Innerfamiliäre Tötungsdelikte im Zusammenhang mit Beziehungskonflikten, Trennung beziehungsweise Scheidung. Konsequenzen für die Jugendhilfe, Beltz Juventa, 1st edition 2017 (in German).
Children in Women’s Shelters. Developing and Testing Services to Improve the Support for Children in Women’s Shelters, published by the Baden-Württemberg Foundation, Stuttgart 2016 (PDF, in German).
Health, Well-Being and Personal Safety of Women, Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ), Berlin 2004.
Kavemann, Prof. Dr. Barbara: Violence in Intimate Relationships - Effects on Children and Adolescents - Effects on the Mother-Child-Relationship, Catholic University of Applied Social Sciences Berlin, Women’s Social Science Research Centre Freiburg 2017 (in German).
Kavemann, Kreyssig (eds.): Handbuch Kinder und häusliche Gewalt, 3rd edition (updated and reivsed) 2013 (in German).