المجلس العالمي للتسامح والسلام

Domestic Violence and Children

By Cecilia Doumit

“I tolerated injustice, violence and insults from his father, and I was waiting impatiently for him to become a young man, to protect me; but he also started hitting me and pulling my hair, and he was only 13 years old.” The mother says that, in a state of surprise and disappointment. Her son, Eli, promised her from a young age, to stand by her side, to support her and to compensate for her pain and sorrow; she is desperate and miserable, and she wonders, “What more could I have done to my son? I bore the difficulty of life with his father, having hopes for when he grows up, and he knows it well”, “He’s acting like his father, though he used to let it out on me, I wish I hadn’t sacrificed for him, and now, what do I do?”

The specter of domestic violence is still hovering over a good number of Lebanese homes, while victims hold on to denial and hide it behind the walls. As if they had a choice not to: Social standards have no mercy on its members.

Family violence is not confined to the couple, but reaches the children, the parents and the neighbors, and then the large family, up to the school, companies and institutions where men and women work, and then to society as a whole. So if we talk about one family, what do you think about this deceptive guest within our families, and how it affects us all.

Violence is not always physical; the aggression could be practiced verbally or morally; some assault verbally, and some assault sexually, and it is not easier for the victims of exploit, psychological pressure and intimidation. As for threatening and abuse of reputation, it is considered as psychological violence, in addition to verbal abuse and insults.

Our silence about children being subjected to domestic violence or witnessing it is a crime against them, through which we take away their joy, spontaneity and love for life. We will enumerate some of the consequences of domestic violence on children:

Children who have been subjected to violence carry the torch for generations to come, imitating their parents in the present with brothers and comrades, and in the future with partners, children and others who practice all forms of violence, holding in their hearts hatred, aggression and a negative perspective of things and people.

  • Lack of self-confidence and insecurity.
  • Depression, anxiety, fear, isolation, introversion.
  • Weakness in psychological skills and mental abilities, a decline in the academic performance.
  • Difficulty in communicating with others, violence, relational problems.
  • Cracking and destroying games and belongings.
  • Injury to self and others.
  • Sexual deviation.
  • Drug addiction, alcohol, smoking cigarettes.
  • Escape from home, homelessness, theft.
  • Resorting to bad companions, joining gangs and corrupted groups, far from good values.

How can we protect our children from the impact of domestic violence?

When children witness violence, it becomes difficult to protect them from their negative effects, but it is our responsibility as parents, mothers and fathers to treat and overcome the causes of violence, otherwise to distance ourselves completely from whoever is causing the violence, even if it’s the husband or the wife.

It is very important to admit to the child that violence is unacceptable, whoever was practicing it, and that everyone has the right to self-defense, and that they are not required to obey it for fear of society. We often hear of women being subjected to spousal violence for many years, and of their silence to prevent scandal and family disintegration. For each of these ladies I say:

You have every right to live in dignity and respect with your family and your children in particular, and whoever speaks not of aggression of rights is a silent devil, Madam. Today, it is your responsibility to protect yourself and your children. Do not be silent on injustice, beating and contempt, and do not let your dear children get used to such things. That way, you’d be avoiding them physical, psychological and social damage that we mentioned earlier. Look for the cause, the motive for domestic violence, play your role as a partner in the game, do not break down; it is not a call to confront violence with violence, but to adopt the principles of dialogue and the art of listening, understanding the other, resorting to specialists to help you and your partner to keep away from violence.

Socially, it is important to point out the need to raise awareness against violence in an environment where everyone suffers from psychological, social and economic pressures. It is also recommended to seek to dispel anger, aggression and agitation by doing physical activities, resorting to the embrace of nature, relaxing, listening to quiet music… and most importantly asking for help from doctors and psychologists to overcome tantrums and bouts of violence, and the need to subject the children who have been subjected to it and witnessed it to sessions of psychological treatment.

Our stressful conditions at all levels do not justify our acceptance of coexistence with violence, anger and aggression. One of the basic human needs is a sense of security and stability. This is a right for all.

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