Term Paper: Family Violence and PTSD Children Are Subject

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Family Violence and PTSD

Children are subject to a number of stressors that may contribute to the onset of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). One of the stressors given particular attention is domestic violence, not necessarily against the child, but violence that the child witnesses. Such events in the home have an effect on the child who is privy to them, creating a sense of guilt, adding to the child's stress, and distorting many aspects of the bonding process with one or both parents while also putting a strain on other relationships the child may have at home, at school, and elsewhere. Studies have examined this issue and found a link between violence in the home and subsequent problems played out in children who have witnessed this violence without being the target of it. Abused children suffer from many of the same problems, and that seems to be understood and accepted in diagnosis. The idea that the same sort of problem will result in children who have only witnessed violence in the home has required stronger proof. These children may display the effects of PTSD soon after witnessing this violence, or they may develop the problem later. Some act out similar behaviors in their own lives in relations with others or in overtly criminal behavior that otherwise seems to have no clear cause. Much of this research will be discussed below.

PTSD

In describing the etiology and treatment of PTSD, research adds to the knowledge of how family dynamics might contribute to the onset of PTSD for some individuals or how a different family structure might prevent its onset for others. Not everyone experiencing a traumatic event suffers from PTSD, raising the question of what differences might be found between those who do and those who do not in terms of family structure in this case and in terms of other differences of importance for other studies. Knowing what elements in family dynamics contribute to the onset of PTSD should suggest what changes need to be made as a form of treatment, with changes in the family dynamic helping add to the support the sufferer needs and helping remove adverse influences coming from the family.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects not only those returning from battle but also victims of rape, burglary, car accidents, and natural disasters-along with the health professionals who must care for them. According to one estimate, nearly half of all patients treated at urban trauma centers have severe PTSD, and another 31% are moderately affected. The hallmark of the disorder is repeatedly reliving the ordeal in frightening detail. To blunt the pain generated by such recollections, many patients turn to alcohol and other drugs and may go to great lengths to avoid activities or situations that arouse memories of the occurrence. These people experience consequences in terms of memory -- a selective memory that keeps some memories vivid while blunting others -- that may one day show researchers another aspect of the relationship between stress and learning and memory (Petit, 1991).

The child who witnesses domestic violence may relive this event, adding to any stress they may experience and creating the setting for PTSD and all of the problems that go with it. Children experience degrees of stress in any case, and this will certainly increase if they are suffering from having witnessed a violent act. They may experience degrees of guilt over the incident, as if they had perpetrated it themselves. They may also feel guilty because they were not able to protect their mother from their father, and they will have increased resentment toward the father conflicting with their natural love for both parents. The damage that can be done is considerable, involving not only the mental suffering of the children but further damage when they are unable to learn effectively, do not get along with others as they should, and act out in ways that are antisocial and even violent. In later life, such a child may engage in criminal behavior that creates a pattern for a lifetime. Intervention is therefore needed, which begins with recognition of the source of the problem so that help can be offered and can be effective. The problem of child abuse has been more readily recognized than the issue of psychological damage to children who witness family violence, though both were long avoided as topics because people did not want to believe such things were possible. The abused child shows other signs that make identification more likely, while the child who acts up in class or who withdraws from the society of others could be suffering form any one of a number of problems.

Family Violence

Family violence includes violence against wives, physical and sexual abuse of children, and marital rape. Violence against wives has been analyzed and found to develop because of individual factors, situational factors, and societal factors. Some aggressors have character traits that contribute to their behavior. The victims may also show certain characteristics, such as "learned helplessness." Stressful situations may contribute to the onset of wife beating. Some see the nature of society itself as contributing to the problem, such as social norms that encourage or tolerate male violence.

Violence against wives has been analyzed and found to develop because of individual factors, situational factors, and societal factors. Some aggressors have character traits that contribute to their behavior. The victims may also show certain characteristics, such as "learned helplessness." Stressful situations may contribute to the onset of wife beating. Some see the nature of society itself as contributing to the problem, such as social norms that encourage or tolerate male violence.

The view that women and children are property make them more likely to be subject to violence, as if they were animals that could be owned rather than human beings with some freedom of choice. The role of women in American society was conditioned by religious attitudes and by the conditions of life that prevailed through much of American history. The culture of Europe and America was based for centuries on a patriarchal system in which exclusive ownership of the female by a given male was considered important, with the result that women were relegated to the role of property with no voice in their own fate. The girl-child was trained from birth to fit the role awaiting her.

Clearly, circumstances of family life have changed in the modern era. Industry has been taken out of the home, and large families are no longer economically possible or socially desired. The home is no longer the center of the husband's life, and for the traditional wife there is only a narrowing of interests and possibilities for development. Changes in both family structure and sex roles over the last century have produced the ferment we still see today, and one of the problems with the changing role of women is the degree to which society perceives this as causing unwanted changes in the family, though it is just as true that changes in the family have altered the roles of women. Children today are seen as rightly under the control of their parents, and this contributes, however inadvertently, to the idea that children are like property, not old enough to make their own decisions or even to have certain rights.

The view that women and children are property is probably linked to the male role as provider, as if his work were not only purchasing food and lodging but in some way purchasing the wife and child as well. This may be changing as more and more women are accepted in the workplace and as the male role is no longer that of the single breadwinner in the family. Women encounter problems in finding jobs, and they encounter problems in coping with their family situation when they do. If they are married, they may find that they have two jobs -- one at home and one at work. Mothers will always have two jobs, for raising their children is a full-time job in itself. Affordable child care is a major issue for women today. The traditional social structure is based on the assumption of a stable family structure, but with more and more single and divorced women with children in the workplace, the need for affordable and dependable child care is evident. The trends that have brought about this crisis in child care are likely to continue, and women in the 1990s will call for more governmental and business innovation to provide solutions.

Still, more and more women will enter the workforce, many of them having no choice in the matter because they are the head of their household. The image of self-indulgent feminists as the majority in the workplace, an image fostered by enemies of the woman's movement, is simply false. The image of women and children as property is also false, an image held over from the patriarchal society that is clearly being undermined economically but persists psychologically and in some ways in… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Family Violence and PTSD Children Are Subject.  (2006, December 5).  Retrieved December 11, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/family-violence-ptsd-children-subject/11718

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"Family Violence and PTSD Children Are Subject."  Essaytown.com.  December 5, 2006.  Accessed December 11, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/family-violence-ptsd-children-subject/11718.