"My house, my palace" As people say. But for many children, a house becomes a place for nightmares. Every year, hundreds of millions of children throughout the world witness life from domestic violence.
Complaints directly to Komnas Perempuan Indonesia show that there were 5,784 cases of domestic violence against wives throughout 2016. Imagine how many Indonesian children have to live to suffer severe trauma from their parents' arguments?
These children not only have to watch their parents fight fist and throw plates at each other, they also want or not to hear the zealous screams and insults of the zoo. And even though they are still small, they can be very aware of the tense atmosphere that has left an impression on the house, even though the parents are having weapons.
Fighting fathers and mothers do not realize that what they are doing has a strong and deep impact on the welfare of their children in the future.
Children who are eyewitnesses to their parents' domestic violence cases grow into problem teenagers
There have been so many studies showing that children who grow up in violent homes tend to be victims of child abuse. Children who have experienced violence during childhood have never understood how parents should love and treat each other well, so that they grow up only familiar with violence.
Uniquely, the impact of violence on children is like two sides of a coin. Children who are victims of domestic violence are more likely to get severe trauma, so this cycle is likely to be repeated in his later life - whether he is a victim of violence in his own relationship or even becomes the perpetrator.
Children who are eyewitnesses to domestic violence at home may also grow up experiencing limited learning and social skills, show naughty behavior or are at risk, or suffer from depression, PTSD, or severe anxiety disorders.
And worse, this impact will be felt the most by children who are very young. The UNICEF study shows that domestic violence is more common in homes with young children than teenagers or older children.
Now a recent study published in the journal Law and Human Behavior shows that boys who are eyewitnesses to their parents' domestic violence cases are more likely to become psychopaths when they grow up later, than boys who grow up in harmonious family or who have never seen his parents fight. What is the reason?
Trauma from witnessing acts of violence can permanently imprint on children
The connection between children who are victims of domestic violence and their increased risk of developing psychopathic traits has long been reinforced by the evidence of previous scientific studies. However, a team of researchers from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health stressed that their study was the first study to show that there was a high risk for children to experience this problematic personality disorder, only from witnessing violence at home.
In the study, researchers looked at psychopathic characteristics among nearly 140 male prisoners and investigated whether they had witnessed domestic violence in their childhood. Although the term "psychopath" is often misused by ordinary people to describe someone who is brutal or cruel, in psychology, psychopaths have a certain meaning.
The relationship between psychopaths and domestic violence experienced by parents
The characteristics of psychopaths include deifying oneself and assuming others are weak, cunning and manipulative, lack of empathy, tendency to commit acts of crime, and a tendency to treat others harshly or with indifference.
The researchers chose to study prison prisoners because the characteristics of psychopathy are far more common in this population than the general population, said lead author of the study Monika Dargis, doctoral candidate in clinical psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, quoted from Live Science. The study found that around 40 percent of these prisoners were psychopaths.
Also from this result the researchers concluded that groups of detainees who had witnessed domestic violence between their parents or witnessed siblings being tortured at home during their childhood were more likely to show higher quality characteristics of psychopathy than prisoners who did not witness domestic violence in his childhood.
The exact mechanism behind this connection potential is still unclear. However, it is possible that children who observe manipulative behavior and coercion shown by perpetrators of domestic violence eventually develop this behavior as well. On the other hand, these children may also learn to manipulate and lie to avoid becoming victims of violence by perpetrators of violence, said Dargis.
In other words, these children develop psychopathic behavior to avoid being subjected to violence that has affected their other family members.
Children who grow up in violent homes need protection
The research above shows that the link between being a witness of life from domestic violence cases in childhood and an increased risk of developing the nature of psychopathy is inevitable. But the findings do not prove that witnessing domestic violence in childhood is a psychopathic cause.
Parents who commit domestic violence directly reject the child's right to live in a safe and stable home environment. Many children suffer in silence, and without support at all. But even if not all children exposed to violence at home will be victims or perpetrators, they still need help from other trusted adults to get help and proper affection.
Many victims can overcome their childhood trauma with emotional support from the closest person, so they realize violence is an intolerable thing and their experience cannot be repeated. Children who are victims of domestic violence can be educated, given assistance, and clinical therapy from medical professionals to restore their mental condition.
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