Children's exposure to psychological abuse more damaging than domestic violence 4 years ago

Children's exposure to psychological abuse more damaging than domestic violence

Exposure to psychological abuse between parents is more damaging to children’s wellbeing than domestic violence.

New research, carried out at University of Limerick, has shown that growing up in a home with psychological abuse has more long-term effects on the wellbeing of children than domestic violence.

A scientific paper by Catherine Naughton, Aisling O’Donnell and Orla Muldoon, investigated how children’s exposure to domestic violence and abuse between their parents affects them as young people.

Author Catherine Naughton says that psychological abuse can include, name-calling, intimidation, isolation, manipulation and control:

"What this research highlights is that growing up in a home with domestic abuse, in particular the psychological dimension of it, has long-term consequences for the wellbeing of young people.

Our research found that young people - aged between 17 and 25 years - reported experiencing two distinct yet interrelated types of domestic abuse in their families of origin: physical which includes hitting, punching, kicking and use of a weapon; and, psychological abuse including arguing, name-calling or behaviour that is intimidating, isolating, manipulating or controlling."

The findings show that it was young people’s exposure to the psychological dimension of domestic abuse, which had a detrimental impact on their psychological wellbeing. Naughton says there is a need for more research in the area to assess the impacts of exposure to all types of domestic violence and abuse on young children:


"We know that social support is important for recovery from traumatic childhood events. However, our findings evidence that exposure to high levels of psychological domestic abuse was associated with a decrease in young people’s satisfaction with their social support.

When children were exposed to physical violence in the home as well as psychological domestic abuse, they were more likely to be happier with the social support they were able to access.

Psychological domestic abuse when it occurred alone seems to be the most damaging, perhaps because people are unable to recognise and speak out about it."