Term Paper: Domestic Violence on Children

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[. . .] A history of abuse is also related to the severity of a given mental disturbance, including suicidality, age at first admission to facility for care, frequency and length of admissions, time spent in seclusion, likelihood and dosage of psychiatric medication, and global symptom severity (Beitchman, et al., 1992; Briere, et al., 1997; Bryer, et al., 1987; Pettigrew & Burcham, 1997).

Read also discovered that of those New Zealand inpatients who reported either childhood sexual abuse or childhood physical abuse, 64% were acutely suicidal on admission, as compared to only 22% of in-patients who had not suffered these types of abuse (Read, 1998). A later study of 200 adult outpatients determined that child abuse was a significantly stronger factor in current suicidality than was a more current diagnosis of depression (Read, Agar, Barker-Collo, Davies, & Moskowitz, 2001).

Sexual abuse research suggests that there is, at the very least, an associative relationship between sexual abuse and other disorders, if not a direct causal relationship based on the sexual trauma (Bagley, 1992; Farrell, 1988; Finkelhor & Browne, 1986). According to Farrell, a sexual abuse victim is very likely to develop serious psychological problems as a result of the victimization. Finkelhor and Browne also noted that the aftermath of molestation might be delayed long into adulthood.

Some of the various long-term effects that are often reported and specifically associated with sexual abuse include depression, self-destructive behavior, anxiety, feelings of isolation and stigma, poor self-esteem, difficulty in trusting others, tendency toward revictimization, substance abuse, and sexual maladjustment (Finkelhor & Browne, 1986, Herman & Hirschman, 1977; Tsai & Wagner, l978). Early identification of a sexual abuse victim seems to be the most critical element in the ability to reduce suffering, enhance of psychological development, and guarantee healthier adult functioning (Bagley, 1992; Whitlock & Gillman, 1989).

Sorensen and Snow (1991) suggested that policies and procedures geared only to those children who have disclosed the abuse fail to recognize the needs of the majority of victims (Sorensen & Snow, 1991). Children often fail to report their abuse because of the fear that telling someone about it will bring consequences that are even worse than being victimized. The child may feel guilty for creating these consequences for the abuser and may fear retaliatory actions. Unfortunately, disclosure of the abuse appears to be an ongoing problem for young victims. As long as that is the case, fear, suffering, and psychological distress will continue to plague the victims of childhood abuse.

Theoretical Framework

There are a number of theories about the relationship between child abuse and subsequent mental health problems.

Mental disorders and mental health problems appear in families of all social classes and of all backgrounds. Some children are at greater risk by virtue of a broad array of factors. These may include physical problems, intellectual disabilities (retardation), low birth weight, family history of mental and addictive disorders, multigenerational poverty, and caregiver separation, in addition to abuse and neglect. It is important to further clarify the reason behind the apparent cause-and-effect relationship between child abuse and the numerous mental health issues and problems suffered by children and young adults who have been the victims of physical, psychological or sexual abuse.

Research Method

The method used in this research project started with a review of the literature that discusses issues relating to the effects of domestic violence on children. Based on that literature review, it was determined that some of the effects of domestic violence on children include depression, low-self-esteem, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, personality disorders, sexual dysfunction, eating disorders, dissociative disorders, and other serious mental problems.

Structured interviews were determined to be the most effective method for obtaining the basic information necessary to determine whether abuse had occurred. Structured interviews require the interviewer to ask each respondent the same questions, utilizing an interview schedule. The interview schedule is a formal instrument that spells out the precise wording and ordering of all questions to be asked. The short version of the Childhood Maltreatment Interview Schedule (Briere, 1992) was selected as the appropriate interview schedule tool for this research and it can be found in Appendix A of this proposal. Participants will be chosen from among the population of both inpatients and outpatients, under the age of 25, who are seeking treatment for mental health problems, including depression, anxiety disorders, post traumatic stress disorder, personality disorders, sexual dysfunction, eating disorders and/or dissociative disorders.

Data Analysis

The motivation for doing qualitative research derives from the fact that qualitative research methods are designed to assist in understanding people, as well as the social and cultural contexts within which they live. Kaplan and Maxwell argue that the key to understanding any occurrence from the point-of-view of its participants and its social and institutional context is less likely to be discovered when all of the data are quantified (Kaplan & Maxwell, 1994). Although the structured interview schedule allows for consistency of data across subjects, it will still provide qualitative data that must be interpreted.

Content analysis can be used for "making replicable and valid references from data to their contexts" (Krippendorf, 1980). It will be important to look for structures and patterned regularities in the answers given, as well as to make inferences on the basis of the discovered regularities.

Potential Conclusions

Based on the literature review, it is safe to assume that the results of this survey may show that people who experience serious mental health problems, including depression, anxiety disorders, post traumatic stress disorder, personality disorders, sexual dysfunction, eating disorders and dissociative disorders are suffering from these problems because they were also the victims of childhood sexual and/or physical abuse. Various other studies have pointed to this correlation and it will be of significance to determine more clearly that this link definitely exists, with the insight that a more qualitative approach can bring to the study of the quantified data gathered to date.

Dissemination Plan

The results of this survey should be documented and disseminated via appropriate journals in the region, including the New Zealand Journal of Psychology and/or the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry.

Appendix A Childhood Maltreatment Interview Schedule (adapted from Briere, 1992)



Male ____ Female


Caucasian/White ____ Black ____ Asian ____ Hispanic

Are you currently receiving psychotherapy or psychiatric treatment?

Yes ____ No

The following survey asks about things that may have happened to you in the past. Please answer all of the questions that you can, as honestly as possible.

1) Before age 17, did any parent, step-parent, or foster-parent ever have problems with drugs or alcohol that lead to medical problems, divorce or separation, being fired from work, or being arrested for intoxication in public or while driving?

Yes__ No

If yes, who?

About how old were you when it started?

____ years old

About how old were you when it stopped?

____ years old

Check here if it hasn't stopped yet __]

2) Before age 17, did you ever see one of your parents hit or beat up your other parent?

Yes ____ No

If yes, how many times can you recall this happening?

____ times

Did your father ever hit your mother? Yes ____ No

Did your mother ever hit your father? Yes ____ No

Did one or more of these times result in someone needing medical care or the police being called?

Yes ____ No

3) On average, before age 8, how much did you feel that your father/step-father/foster-father loved and cared about you?

4) On average, before age 8, how much did you feel that your mother/step-mother/foster-mother loved and cared about you?

5) On average, from age 8 through age 16, how much did you feel that your father/step-father/foster-father loved and cared about you?

6) On average, from age 8 through age 16, how much did you feel that your mother/step-mother/foster-mother loved and cared about you?

7) When you were 16 or younger, how often did the following happen to you in the average year? Answer for your parents or stepparents or foster parents or other adult in charge of you as a child:

once twice over 20 times

A) Yell at you

B) Insult you

C) Criticize you

D) Try to make

6 you feel guilty

E) Ridicule or 6 humiliate you

F) Embarrass you

6 in front of others

G) Make you feel

6 like you were a bad person

8) Before age 17, did a parent, step-parent, foster-parent, or other adult in charge of you as a child ever do something to you on purpose (for example, hit or punch or cut you, or push you down) that made you bleed or gave you bruises or scratches, or that broke bones or teeth?



If yes, who did this?

How often before age 17? ____ times

How old were you the first time? ____… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Domestic Violence on Children.  (2004, May 19).  Retrieved June 16, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/domestic-violence-children/7027252

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