3 million children aged 3 to 17 years may witness domestic abuse of a parent every year in the United States ("Health Plus"). Domestic violence has a weighty effect on children who are exposed to it. Even if the children are not abused themselves, being helpless witnesses to the abuse of a parent is just as traumatizing to them as direct abuse. The effects of living in a violent home may create problems for a child throughout his or her life. Approximately 75% of all abusive men watched their fathers battering their mothers ("Open Arms Home").
Children depend on their parents to provide a safe, stable and predictable environment. When their parents are involved in a battering relationship, attention is taken away from the children's needs and focused on the violence. The entire family becomes isolated. The mother and her children are busy with pacifying the batterer and trying to keep him from getting angry (Katz 157). Children in such a situation learn that they don't really matter. They learn that anger means losing control, and that men control women through violence. .
Domestic violence is a continuous pattern of behavior by one person against someone in a close relationship with him or her A batterer may harm a spouse, a lover, a child, a parent, or a dating partner. Battering is a way of maintaining control over another person. Abusers have learned that they can get what they want from people who care about them by using threats, put-downs, emotional terrorism, isolation, financial deprivation, forced sex, and physical violence. Experts agree that the next generation of abusers will come from those who have been abused themselves or have witnessed abuse. Viewing family violence is traumatizing to a child and is considered to be a form of child abuse. Batterers create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation in order to keep their victims "in line" and prevent them from being free individuals.