University of Maryland Children and Domestic Violence Discussion & Responses

Discussion 2 Questions: “Children and Domestic Violence – The  Impact on Others”

1.  Should a domestic violence history be a factor in child custody and visitation? 

  • What are TWO key problems with custody and visitation in domestic violence cases? 

2.  Punishment for the abuser can be aggravated (harsher) based on the presence of children during the abuse incident.  Do you agree with this?  Explain.

3.  Based on the discussion resources, list TWO ways children are impacted by domestic violence.  Explain why.

  • Do you believe there is a connection between domestic violence and child abuse?  Explain.

4.  After reviewing the artwork by children (Through Their Eyes article) and the child on the stairs video, what do you think is the most significant impact on children in domestic violence homes?

  • Justify why it has the greatest impact.
  • What piece of art work impacted you the most? Describe it and explain why.

RESPONSE TO SERGIO

  1. Someone with the history of domestic violence should be evaluated by the courts in regards to custody and/or visitation. Although false claims are sometimes made, the majority of domestic violence reporting is substantiated to some extent, even when the extent being possibly exaggerated by the reporter. Although I would opine that both parents/guardians should have access to their children in common, I would also frantically and sincerely urge that limits be placed to the type and extent of visitation for the parent/guardian who have a proven history of domestic violence, not just allegations.
  • Two key problems in respect to custody and visitation in domestic violence situations are stability and concerns of neglect. Although abuse is definitely a concern, I believe it to be automatic for the courts and the legal system when taking the circumstances into consideration. The stability of each parent in a domestic violence situation should be considered due to making every attempt to provide the children with every advantage in an attempt to provide a stable living environment for them as to not impede their growth and overall well-being. The second concern being neglect. Although neglect is closely related to abuse, it is oftentimes not a deliberate act, but just as detrimental to the children.
  1. I believe in situations where a parent is found to be a offender in a domestic violence situation with children present, there should be more severe punishment set. This being due to the children being more impressionable and learning what they observe. Although parents often make the disclaimer “do what I say” or something similar, children most often than not learn what they observe. Thus we are training our children to repeat what they observe which predisposes them to possibly becoming offenders. (firsttimemomanddad, 2013)
  2. Two ways children are impacted by domestic violence include assuming domestic violence is normal due to being exposed to it at an early age predisposing them to become victims or offenders, and causing trauma to include emotional and psychological. This trauma can cause children to act out in a rebellious manner, or cause them to internalize everything causing self-harm both of which harm the child in different ways.
  • I believe there is a close relation between domestic violence and child abuse due to the fact the offender in both is making a decision to do so. Although anger may be an ignitor, it is still a decision made by the offender which is oftentimes the result of discontent of a decision or act made by the victim which the offender disagrees with.
  1. I believe the most significant impact on children who live in homes with domestic violence is the pain, hurt, and lack of love they feel to the point I believe they feel abandoned, alone, and betrayed by the people who are supposed to love and care for them the most. The drawings showed me the extent of their pain and suffering to the point that they are able to suppress it in an attempt to “act normal” while outside of the home in the presence those who are unaware of the home situation.
  • It has the greatest impact on children due to the early age they are exposed to domestic violence. The earlier they are exposed, the more damage it will cause due to them being more impressionable. It has the greatest impact due to not only affecting their own growth, but predisposing them to domestic violence and the propensity to possibly become offenders as they grow into adults oftentimes living as if it was normal due to their early exposure. (Yumpu.com)
  • The honesty and sincerity of children was not lacking in the artwork depicted in the module. The innocence and clarity of such young children was more than evident in what they drew and was displayed in their drawings. The one that impacted me most was the one on page 24 depicting a larger person (assuming male) shaking/punching a more petite person (assuming female) who was falling to the ground. In the background there was a “Bud Light” bottle drawn to the left of the figure on the left. Although Bud Light is not inherently wrong, in the child’s eyes it may be the root of all evil. Children do not wish to be forced to choose between parents, but will quite often internalize their pain. In the drawing depicted, it was identical to the others in the sense of depiction of physical abuse.
  1. The phrase “be a man” or “grow up” and other similar phrases are oftentimes the most harmful phrases children hear usually out of the frustrations of their father. Although it is not physical abuse, it is abuse none the less. Regardless whether that phrase or any other, it plays a huge role in the developmental stages of children and stereotypes and unattainable expectations. As children grow and continually fail to meet these expectations, they may internalize that pain and eventually cause self-harm, or they may act out and become rebellious and incorrigible. Meanwhile the abuser is furthering the harm done to the child. As those children become adults, they are more likely to become offenders or victims, with help they are able to become survivors. There are many contributing factors of which tradition, religion, and culture may further those abuses as normal. This cycle is never ending due to some becoming so immune to them that it is part of their nature and considered normal. (BuzzFeedYellow, 2015)

RESPONSE TO LEON

1. A domestic violence history should absolutely be taken into consideration for child custody and visitation. It is very true in all cases of domestic abuse that involve children: (1) children who live in a home where domestic abuse has taken place, are exposed to this form of violence and (2) this form of exposure to violence causes harm to some extent for these children (Buzawa, E. & Buzawa, C. & Stark, E., 2017). There are two reasons for which this can become a problem with custody and visitation in domestic violence cases. The first problem involves the perpetrator’s use of the child as a tool. Secondly, the Battered Mother’s Dilemma may also arise some problems during child custody and visitation.

Oftentimes, perpetrators of domestic violence use their children as a form of control of the child’s mother (Buzawa, E. & Buzawa, C. & Stark, E., 2017). “This patter is called ‘child abuse as a tangential spouse abuse’” (Buzawa, E. & Buzawa, C. & Stark, E., chp. 14, 2017). Child abuse as tangible spouse abuse is the result of separation between the abuser and the victim during custody disputes and children then are used as a form for an abuser’s manipulation (Buzawa, E. & Buzawa, C. & Stark, E., 2017). This is then considered litigation abuse. Additionally, the Battered Mother’s Dilemma is the choice that an abusive partner forces a mother to make a decision between her safety or the safety of her children (Buzawa, E. & Buzawa, C. & Stark, E., 2017). Oftentimes, custody disputes allow abusive husbands to threatened extended custody battles unless all claims are abandoned by the wife for financial support or they will then threatened her with physical harm if her choice is to pursue custody (Buzawa, E. & Buzawa, C. & Stark, E., 2017). Both, the Battered Mother’s Dilemma and the perpetrator’s use of child as a tool are examples that cause problems to arise for the mother and child that may put their safety at risk when child custody and visitation may be brought into the picture.

2. I believe that punishment for the abuser can definitely be aggravated based on the presence of children during the abuse. I believe this to be true for a variety of reasons, especially when modeling is taken into consideration. Intergenerational transmission is the belief that modeling is a cause of adult violence that attempts to explain that when children are exposed to domestic violence at a young age, their risk of becoming violent adults greatly increases (Buzawa, E. & Buzawa, C. & Stark, E., 2017). Additionally, even when batterers do not use violence with their partners, children are still exposed to what they now believe is an “acceptable” behavior in order to get their way (Buzawa, E. & Buzawa, C. & Stark, E., 2017). Oftentimes this behavior is justified as a means of provocation as a result of outside factors or because “she deserved it” (Buzawa, E. & Buzawa, C. & Stark, E., 2017).

3. Based on the discussion resources, two ways that children may be impacted by domestic violence is through “alarm triggers” as discussed by James Henry and a change of DNA as discussed by Marleen Wong. According to Henry (2013), when children are exposed to such violence a sense of fear (the alarm) is created within them that takes away their safety and affects their perceptions of what reality is (0:55- 1:02, OVC). Additionally, Henry also states the way in which the brain is then expected to expect danger which can trigger the fight/fight center (2:44 – 2: 46, OVC). Marleen Wong then proceeds to add the way that cumulative violence can then change the DNA in the brain (3:55- 4:00, OVC). I strongly believe that there is a connection between domestic violence and child abuse. Through a generational perspective, when children are exposed to domestic violence, the risk of adult violence increases, also known as intergenerational transmission (Black, 2021).

4. After viewing both the artwork by children and the child on the stairs video, it is clear to me that the most significant impact that children have is the loss of love or a misrepresentation of what love is, whether in friendships or relationships, as a result of witnessing domestic violence. I believe that this is the greatest impact due to all the stories that were provided in the videos and the impact of their experience had on them, including the child on the stairs video and his expression and body language as he remained listening to the situation after being stratelled by the sound of a broken glass.

The piece of artwork that impacted me the most was the child on the stairs video. The reason for this is due to the harsh reality that many children, at such young ages, have to witness such abuse that can cause them so much anxiety and confusion. They’re innocent individuals who have now been exposed to some of the most traumatic experiences that an individual can have. A case that is dear to me is that of Gabriel Fernandez. Despite the different circumstances that he did not witness the abuse, but was the primary victim of abuse, children can still be victims and experience such life changing trauma whether they are primary or secondary victims.

5. In the discussion video, the “Mask You Live In” movie trailer, cultural-based gender roles, societal definitions, stereotypes and gender expectations all play a role in a domestic violence response, intervention and prevention in a variety of ways. When individuals allow for these societal definitions, stereotypes, gender expectations, and more, play a role in their lives, then it is likely that built up anger and negative thoughts (e.g., suicide as a result of feeling like they cannot reach out because it is seen as “feminin”) can all play a part in a domestic violence response. According to Dr.James Gilligan (2013), people resort to behavior that is desperate with feelings of shame and humiliation, or feel that they would, when it is apparent to them that they didn’t prove that they are real men (The Representation Project). Following Dr.Gilligan’s statement, Dr. Joseph Marshall then includes the way that respect is linked to violence which goes hand in hand to the previous statement (The Representation Project, 2013). When individuals are raised to believe that they must be respected and ways that they should handle when being disrespected, this then makes the connection to the way that men are often having to prove themselves to be “man enough” to society. This can create a need for control of their lives and others. Furthermore, this is related to domestic violence and the need for control that can then be connected to the way that domestic violence occurs and becomes a repetitive pattern in relationships. Ending this idea of toxic masculinity may help men feel safer to reach out for help and validate their anger, rather than suppressing it and then associating those acts as “feminin” and avoid such behavior. Additionally, this can relate to victims of abuse as women are often caught into these societal definitions of justifying such actions through statements such as “boys will be boys” or “if he’s mean to you, it means he likes you”, all of which are justification for the aggressive behavior of men. This allows women to justify such behavior and follow societal expectations to cater to men as well as a false perception of the way that men should treat them.

5.  Review the discussion resource video, “Mask You Live In” movie trailer.  Cultural-based gender roles, societal gender definitions, stereotypes and gender expectations may play a role in domestic violence response, intervention and prevention.  Analyze that role and influence, and explain how  it relates to domestic violence abusers AND victims?

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