Infants Exposed to Domestic Violence Fall Seriously Ill as Adults, Shows Study
A new study has found that exposure to domestic violence in their homes can put infants at risk of both physical and mental health concerns.
Published in Maternal Child Health Journal, the study found that besides worse academic outcomes due to neurodevelopmental lags, infants exposed to domestic violence also have a higher risk for gastrointestinal distress. In addition, growing up, they also have trouble eating and sleeping and dealing with stress.
Moreover, past research has shown that exposure to domestic violence in infancy can lead children to develop eating disorders and even PTSD — in addition to exhibiting a lack of attachment to caregivers, or “normal” responses to other adults.
Violence within their families can also continue beyond their infancy. In that case, the impact on children is more significant. It can hamper their ability to socialize with others and form friendships, render them unable to focus, delay their physical and emotional development, cause them to exhibit aggressive behavior, and even push them towards self-harm and substance abuse.
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While conducting the present study, researchers found that at three, six, and 12 months after birth, infants born to women with one abusive male partner experienced worse cognitive development than women with multiple male partners — even if some of them were abusive.
What is even more worrisome is that domestic violence reports increased by 2.5 times during the pandemic, according to official data by the National Commission for Women. “[Women] were confined to the walls of the house with their abusers. Drinking or not drinking, these abusers find reasons on a daily basis to vent their frustration on the women, and the pandemic made it worse,” activist Shabnam Hashmi told The Print.
While individuals directly facing violence from their partners are, of course, the most affected, according to the present study, intimate partner violence affects children too — perhaps, in more ways than scientists.
“Violence against women is endemic in every country and culture, causing harm to millions of women and their families, and has been exacerbated by the Covid19 pandemic,” WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a press release this March.