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So how does Domestic violence affect children and babies? They pick up every sound and emotion of those around them even when they are in the womb. Studies have found that it is actually recorded in their cells. So you need to think very carefully about how you behave around them and be responsible and not use violence or  abuse. Because the result will be felt for a lifetime and can not always be undone. It can cause a lifetime of damage to the victim so think very carefully about how you behave around babies and small children. The first seven years of a child’s life creates the foundation for the rest of their life. So what they experience in this time is so important and will determine how they respond to later incidents in their life. If they grow up experiencing violence and abuse they will become very affected by incidents later in their life and this will be what they know this will then become normal behaviour to them. They will expect to experience violence for the rest of their life and think that it is ok for another person to use violence or to abuse them. They will have a damaged self esteem as a result of the abuse that they have seen and experienced. They may even not know that this kind of behavior is not ok and is against the law because it will be normal to them. What you can do is to get information on this kind of abuse to show to them, the parents or carers so that they are educated on this and how domestic violence affects children and babies. Most crisis centres or women’s centres will have this information available for you to read and give out to those in need. It is also on our charity website for you to read and learn about. WWW.stopalldomesticviolenceinc.com. Children who experience violence will be frightened of speaking out they have learnt to be passive to violence and to stay quiet to not make a scene or stand up for themselves. They will react and be frightened when they hear loud noises near them expecting violence and to be hurt.

Studies have been done that show that young children and babies who witness or have experienced domestic violence have damage to their emotional and cognitive development and to their social functioning. They have an inability to learn and also of their moral development which can affect their ability to negotiate intimate relationships later in their life. Often children who are very young will think that the fighting is their fault because at this young age everything is about them and this is how they understand what is going on. They will be hyper vigilant and dissociate as a way of coping.  This is also when a person learns about self harm it is a result of very early child abuse and any domestic violence is a type of child abuse. Because the child or baby can not understand what is going on and what is happening all they know or feel is that the anger and abuse is there fault. They may learn to self abuse because the feelings they feel are so overwhelming for them to feel and they don’t know any other way to deal with what they feel inside. Often they will have nightmares and many behaviour problems such as depression, anxious, nervous behaviour, difficulty sleeping, bedwetting, withdrawn behaviour, running away from home, behaviour problems, stomach aches and illnesses, poor concentration, low self-esteem and insecurity.

Small children and babies can not speak up for themselves so it is up to every one of us to voice our concerns and to ensure that they are kept safe and grow up in a healthy loving environment. If you know of a baby or small child who is experiencing violence or abuse in their home or anywhere you need to let the police and docs know what is happening so that the abuse stops and they are not damaged any more. They can not speak up for themselves they are not big enough to do this so it is up to all of us to be there eyes and ears and protect them. They are very vulnerable and unable to take care of themselves at this young age. The kind policeman, policewomen and docs are trained in what to do and will know how to keep them safe what actions need to be taken for their safety. Docs have a call line you can ring for children at risk and you can ring or go to your local police station or ring the police assistance line for help with this.