Intimate Partner Violence (IPV): Understanding the Impact on Your Child

 

Children need healthy relationships at all stages of their growth and development in order to successfully bond with their caregivers and feel safe in their environment. Forming healthy relationships acts as a guard against stress and positively impacts self-esteem. Healthy relationships form when a child and his or her caregiver share respect, open communication, and trust. These elements create an environment in which children benefit from positive experiences. Children who do not form healthy relationships and have negative experiences in childhood are more susceptible to abuse, neglect, and exploitation.

Witnessing Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) in childhood is a common negative experience for many children. IPV is the emotional, physical, and sexual abuse and the control of a person by their significant other. Watching a parent experience IPV is a form of toxic stress for children. Toxic stress is a form of continuous stress that can have negative emotional and physical impacts.

IPV is a serious situation where immediate solutions are not always present. If you or a loved one is experiencing IPV, remember that it is in no way the fault of the victim, and no judgment should be placed on them. It is important not to place blame on victims of IPV.

If you know of a child who lives with a parent that is experiencing IPV, it is necessary to tell the child that he or she has no responsibility for the violence, is not to blame, and cannot be expected to “save” their parent from the situation. Children must be reminded that is it is the job of adults to keep them safe, and not vice versa.

More information on Massachusetts-based resources for IPV and domestic violence can be found here.

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