Abuse and the cycle of abuse will always continue unless the cycle is broken. But often the root of abuse is deeply embedded in the inequalities of culture and sex roles, roles that we don’t ever think about in that way, but that have the potential to cause abuse in families.
The levels of violence in society also affect the level of violence in families. When society becomes threatened for example, in times of high unemployment, social deprivation, poor quality housing and a high cost of living, the effect it has on family can sometimes influence the cycle of abuse and where the true victims become the children.
Until recently, children witnessing abuse and violence have remained the forgotten and silent victims of family abuse. But there is no doubt that children witnessing abuse, can have serious negative impacts on their emotional, cognitive, behavioural, physical and social development.
Children are often made to feel upset or guilty, and in some cases may believe they are responsible for the abuse that if they were better behaved their parents wouldn’t fight. Of course that’s further from the truth. Children may also feel afraid that if their mother is being abused by their father, they may be next.
On the part of the child, there is the feeling of sickness and panic that stays permanently in the pit of their stomach. Even when they’re not subjected to abuse, they don’t stop feeling sick, because they live in fear that the abuse will return. Raised voices directed at another child in the street, may often bring those feelings back.
When anyone uses abuse, it is based on their unconscious thinking, carried out in the present moment, but the more someone uses abuse to communicate, the more the abuse will continue. But abuse must stop. As parents we should want to be and give of our best. In a fully functional supporting family, parents should want to be a support.
Children need to be inclusive. They need to be able to say what they feel and to express themselves in an open, honest and transparent way and on our part, we must do the same. Parents must nurture their own relationships, so their children learn to model healthy relationships.
Sadly, when parents choose abuse as a means of communication and it is a choice, not only do they lose out on being the best parents they can be and having the best relationship with their children, but their children lose out on having them as parents who support, love and encourage them.