hildren Living with Domestic
Violence – Impacts and Resilience
As argued in Chapter 4, violence to mothers is an important indicator of risk to children. Children are likely to be abused by the same perpetrator as the mother, usually the child's natural father. Research has also indicated that children may be adversely affected by living with domestic violence, although it is becoming clear that different children react in different ways and that the relationship between the violence and the effect it has on a child can be both complex and multi-faceted (Peled and Davis 1995; Saunders et al. 1995). A range of personal and contextual factors can influence the extent of the impact (Kelly 1996). These 'mediating variables' are often referred to as 'protective' or 'vulnerability' (or 'risk') factors in that they can improve or accentuate the child's response to the violence. However, we still lack detail about how such factors influence children's perceptions and reactions, both in the short and longer term (Jaffe et al. 2003; Moore et al. 1990). In this chapter, we begin by examining some of the impacts on children of living with domestic violence to their mothers, going on to discuss how practitioners may help to enhance children's 'protective' factors.
As indicated in Chapter 4, there is a growing recognition that living with or growing up in an atmosphere of domestic violence can have detrimental effects on the children concerned, with such children exhibiting more 'adjustment difficulties' than children from non-violent homes (Jaffe et al. 1990; Kolbo et al. 1996; Rossman 2001). The length and frequency of exposure to violence appears to have a direct impact on the severity of children's reactions (Hershorn and Rosenbaum 1985; Jouriles et al. 1987). Some clinicians and