Understanding how domestic violence affects a family is very powerful. While it may not be enough for batterers to cease their violence, it can shine a light on a tragic reality for the abused. It is important to understand what constitutes domestic violence in a home.

Domestic Violence can be defined in California as:

  • -Physical assault (slapping, hitting, punching, kicking, shoving, choking either with one’s hands or a weapon)
  • -Sexual assault (Rape or otherwise being forced to participate in sexual activities, either by witnessing it or participating in it)
  • -Emotional abuse (belittling the victim, making them feel useless and worthless, insulting one’s looks, criticizing one’s personality, embarrassing one with shame on everything from the way they dress to insulting one’s children or pets)
  • -Verbal abuse (this can include shouting, name calling, yelling, cursing)
  • -Social abuse (refusing to allow a victim visit with friends and family, isolating one by moving away from people the victim knows and can reach out to for help)
  • -Ruining or otherwise damaging property (destroying furniture, causing damage to a vehicle, breaking mirrors, etc.)
  • -Financial abuse (taking complete control of the family finances, doling out very little, if any, money, forcing one to buy groceries and supplies with not enough money, forcing one to work and then surrender his or her paycheck)

In homes that have violence and the threat of violence hanging in the air, it is unmistakable for those trained to identify it. These particular homes are weighted down with fear and an absence of healthy family functioning. Children are withdrawn or overly stimulated and are often unsure of how to behave, what to say or what not to say. These children are also more prone to sickness and emotional problems and as they grow up, they are far more likely to express aggression in their behaviors and potentially repeat these behaviors with others. They are mirroring what they have learned. Girls can often grow into young women who are drawn to abusers; again, it is all they know. Boys become abusive men and begin their own cycles of abuse if their needs are not addressed earlier.

It is important to understand that family violence affects everyone even if the abuser is not physically abusing the children. It is still considered family violence and there are repercussions for those who are abusing their spouses and family members. The law has protections, the courts will ensure those protections are put into place and there are many social programs designed to assist those escaping from the cycle of abuse.

For those in the home, anxiety is usually higher, their social skills are lacking and the odds for developing depression are much higher. Emotional distress is evident to social workers and psychologists as well. If you or a loved one is a victim of domestic violence, you are encouraged to reach out and find a solution that can allow you to move safely away from the abuse. The state of California has laws and protections in place for victims and their children.