The following is a list of signs common to abusive and battering personalities.
Though this list may not predict with absolute certainty, it is a good place to start.
There are several general reactions that children from violent homes are
likely to show. The same emotional reaction can be acted out differently according
to the child's age.
1. Feeling Responsible for
A child might think, "If I had been a good girl/boy, Daddy
wouldn't have hit Mommy."
2. Constant Anxiety
Even when things are calm, one never knows when the
next fight will start.
3. Guilt for not Stopping
Children also experience guilt because they cannot
stop the abuse, even though the abuse is beyond the child's control.
Children who are separated from the abuser are in
the process of grieving over the loss. Children may also grieve over losing the life
style and positive image of the abuser they had before the violence began.
The idea of not knowing how one feels or having two
different emotions at the same time is very difficult for children. A child who
says, "I don't know how I feel about it," may not be hedging, but rather is
confused about feelings.
6. Fear of Abandonment
Children removed from one parent as a result of
violent acts may have strong fears that the other parent could also leave them or die.
Thus, a child may refuse to leave their mother, even for short time periods.
7. Need for Excessive Adult Attention
This need can be especially difficult for mothers
who are trying to deal with their own pain and decisions.
8. Fear of Physical Harm to
A significant percentage of children witnessing violence are also
abused. They may worry that the abuser will find them and abduct or harm them.
Another worry is that the abuser will be angry and retaliate if they return home.
These are often very realistic fears.
Especially for older children, sensitivity to the stigma of
spouse abuse may result in shame.
10. Worry about the Future
The uncertainty within their daily lives may make
children feel that life will continue to be unpredictable.
11. Guilt about Abuser
A child may feel guilty or confused about the
positive feelings s/he has for the abuser.