ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Many families deal with abuse of some kind, according to mental health experts, but what often goes unnoticed is the effect it can have on children.
The scars of emotional abuse can’t be seen as a bruise or a physical marking, but it can leave a lasting impact.
One in 15 children in the United States has been exposed to “intimate partner violence” for a total of five million children, according to Remedies of Rockford, an outreach and counseling center at 220 Easton Parkway.
Children who are abused often have anxiety, both generalized and separation anxiety, coupled with aggression and difficulty concentrating, they said. Nightmares can be a sign that something is wrong, as well.
Counselors at Remedies say what children witness at home can be brought up at school.
“They might witness lots of yelling and arguments at home. We do know that emotional abuse also comes along with physical, sexual, and financial abuse. So, they might also witness those forms of abuse,” said senior children’s advocate, Crystal Magallon.
“They are prone to get bullied at school, or sometimes they do bully others,” added multi-victimization counselor Tania Popoca. “Because the abuse is happening at home and they’re frustrated, they have no one to talk to.”
Not all children become aggressive. Some internalize what they see and vow to react differently, to end that cycle of abuse.
“I do work with teens as well, and they do tell me ‘I do want to change that cycle,'” Popoca said. “But, that’s an education piece that not everyone is aware of. It’s very important, especially growing up, right? Learning the things that are different? You can change the cycle.”
If you are a survivor of domestic or sexual violence, visit our Stateline Strong page for resources.