Breaking the Links
In the article Breaking the Links in Intergenerational Violence: An Emotional Regulation Perspective, Judith P. Siegel discusses the issue of intergenerational domestic violence. The author stipulates that individuals who witnessed domestic violence during their childhood end up becoming violent in their adult intimate relationships. The purpose of the article is to show that emotional regulation has a significant impact on the concept of family violence heritability and that internalizing and externalizing how the victims deal with abuse, neglect, and stress from such forms of violence can assist in dealing with the problem (Siegel 163). Thus, embracing a trauma-informed approach provides a significant platform through which children that have witnessed family violence can be identified to receive the most appropriate treatment that would assist in breaking the cycle of violence in their lives.
One of the most fundamental lessons that I learned from the article is that family violence affects people from all socioeconomic levels yet the services offered to the victims do not fully address the issue at hand. While it is clear that domestic violence causes profound emotional and physical harm to the victims and their children, the services that are offered to such individuals fail to provide effective means of permanently ceasing the violence. According to Siegel, most of these programs fail to take into consideration key research findings that indicate that violent men tend to be resistant to change, dropped out of school, and have a poor outcome (163). At the same time, counselling the female victims of family violence does not solve the problem as the feminist outlook on the issue denies women that have witnessed abuse since their childhood the opportunity to receive therapy that focuses on the underlying causes of their problems. Failure by such service providers to acknowledge the multigenerational consequences of witnessing such acts of violence among children often results in the problem remaining undiagnosed until such individuals become victims or perpetrators of domestic violence themselves.
Secondly, children that are exposed to domestic violence experience emotional and behavioral problems. Whether the violence is initiated by their father or mother, domestic violence results in extensive emotional abuse among the children who witnessed the act. Whether the child witnessed the incidence or learned about the incidence after it happened, he is she is bound to be massively affected and traumatized by the occurrence. In most instances, such children end up developing behavioral problems and having to endure continuous incidences of neglect and abuse from their parents (Siegel 164). In the end, such individuals develop a problem with regulating their emotions, which ultimately results in violence once they get into intimate adult relationships.
Thirdly, I learned that exposing children to family violence has huge consequences on their emotional regulation. Besides affecting the child’s brain development and heralding psychological disorders, individuals that witness family violence also experience numerous trauma-induced issues that can easily develop into psychiatric, cognitive, and emotional problems. At the same time, such individuals are more likely to experience or get into violent relationships later on in life. Siegel argues that individuals who witnessed domestic violence during their childhood are highly likely to repeat the same in their intimate relationships as adults (166). Therefore, individuals that were raised in violent homes are more likely to become either perpetrators or victims of spousal abuse in their adulthood.
The information provided in the article is fundamental in ensuring that people experiencing domestic violence receive the appropriate help and assistance that they need. Through this article, Siegel helps counselors and other service providers that work with victims of family violence to realize that children who witnessed domestic violence are bound to develop impairments that make it difficult for them to process emotions in their adult lives (167). At the same, such individuals might find it exceedingly difficult to control their emotional state once they perceive danger due to their inability to deescalate their arousal to specific triggers. Furthermore, the article states that such individuals are bound to have dysfunctional responses to dangerous situations, hence, reacting through panic and violent flare-ups during a conflict. Whereas not all individuals who witnessed domestic violence are set to be extensively affected by their childhood experiences, they are set to experience emotional instability in all their interpersonal relationships that might have permanent impacts on their lives. Armed with this information, social workers and counselors who work with victims of domestic violence can provide the required help to both the victims of domestic violence and their children. They can recognize that witnessing such acts of violence will have lifelong impacts on the children even if they do not show any physical or emotional scars. Having such knowledge will ensure that the professionals assist the child victims or witnesses to family violence to overcome their emotional scars through treatment and therapy to ensure that they do not continue the cycle of abuse in their adulthood.
One of the main criticisms that I have of the article is the fact that it is entirely based on secondary research. Given the intensity of the information contained in the article, it is only appropriate that the author should have conducted a study to confirm or dispel her notions on the impact of domestic violence on a child’s ability to regulate his or her emotions as an adult. Even though the author makes extensive references to other articles and past research on the topic, I believe that conducting her own research into the topic would make it easier for her audience to realize the effectiveness of the most appropriate treatment options for individuals that have been traumatized by domestic violence.
Having read and analyzed the article, one of the ideas that I would like the author to further examine on the topic is the emotional consequences for a child that has been forced to take sides by his parents during or after an incidence of violence at home. It is evident that children who witness violence are affected in a manner similar to those who undergo physical abuse. Such children are set to develop internalized and externalized behaviors that are noticeable their through social, emotional, and psychological tendencies. For instance, boys are bound to engage in bullying, fighting, cheating, and lying while girls tend to develop internalized behaviors like social withdrawal, depression, and anxiety. While such externalized and internalized behaviors have been extensively discussed, there is minimal information on how being forced to choose sides during a family conflict can affect the emotional, behavioral, and psychological development of a child. Given the prevalence of family violence in the contemporary society today, I believe that addressing such a topic will be instrumental in shedding more light on how to break the cycle of domestic violence.
Siegel, Judith. “Breaking the Links in Intergenerational Violence: An Emotional Regulation Perspective.” Family Process, vol. 52, no. 1, 2013, pp. 163-178.
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