Posted by: Chasy | 16/08/2009

Domestic violence hurts children in more ways than one

This article from Science Daily (a week old, sorry) upset me quite a bit:

Almost half of Bangladeshi women with young children experience violence from their husbands, and their children appear to have a higher risk of recent respiratory infections and diarrhea, according to a report in the August issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

More than two of every five (42.4 percent) of the mothers had experienced intimate partner violence from their husband within the past year. Those who did were more likely to report that their children had acute respiratory infections (19.2 percent vs. 13.7 percent) or diarrhea (11.6 percent vs. 7.6 percent) within the past two weeks. “Importantly, because the present analyses were adjusted for potential confounders, these effects persist after consideration of socioeconomic status (e.g., poverty), household characteristics and environmental factors (e.g., sanitation),” the authors write.

Unfortunately, this is not surprising and makes perfect sense. Households that suffer domestic violence have a much higher levels of anxiety and related disorders. As anxiety has a significant impact on the immune system, it would stand to reason that children living in such homes would suffer suppressed immunity as a result of the violence going on around them.

The article also mentions that women in such situations may not be able to meet the basic health needs of their children. Violence, injury and anxiety would interfere with a woman’s ability to ensure children are clean, sleeping well, dressed correctly, immunised and well fed. This would add to the guilt already experienced by the mother, as I doubt very much that lack of care or concern in those situations would be to blame. In fact, women are more likely to stay with a violent partner if they have children, because they believe they cannot properly provide for the children by themselves.

This sort of research brings to light the fact that victims of domestic violence do not have enough support from government or their community. There is not enough information provided to the community that gives women a sense of agency, which leads women in such damaging relationships to believe there is no hope.

If children are added to the bargain, the situation would be horrendous.


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