Abuse takes many forms – physical and emotional. In the same way that a woman can be abused without ever being beaten, a child can also be abused without being beaten.
Where an abuser lives within the family, the dynamic will be distorted – he will control, he will demand, he will manipulate. Children will learn how to please and appease, and rather than growing up to live a self-determined life, they will be groomed to behave in the ways the abusive parent has taught them. They will subjugate themselves to the will of another.
A child who sees his mother being disrespected may mimic what he sees – he will also disrespect. He will recognise where the power lies, and more importantly, he will recognise who has the power to hurt him – the abuser. His instinct for survival will force him to seek to be on the same side as the abusive parent.
The effect of this is that a child’s view of love and of relationships will be abnormal – this will cause him inner conflict – he wants the love of both parents, but he is forced to play a part.
He will carry with him images and sounds from his upbringing and may find his adult life echoes much of it.
So even without ever being the target of the abuse, a child in an abusive home is not fine.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse or is affected by any of the issues mentioned above phone COPE Galway Domestic Abuse Service at 091 565 985 (24 hours)