The Startling Toll on Children Who Witness Domestic Violence Is Just Now Being Understood
New research is giving scientists more insight into the far-reaching and long-lasting harms of domestic violence to the children who grow up around it – including a startling finding: Witnessing abuse carries the same risk of harm to children’s mental health and learning as being abused directly.
Brain imaging in infants shows that exposure to domestic violence – even as they are sleeping, or in utero – can reduce parts of the brain, change its overall structure and affect the way its circuits work together.
Studies show that when babies born to mothers who were subjected to violence during pregnancy become adults, they have three times as much inflammation in their bodies as those whose mothers weren’t. Inflammation causes a much higher risk of poor health, and a far greater likelihood of depression.
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