When a Child Is the Aggressor in Domestic Violence

In instances where mental illness is causing domestic violence, what scenarios come immediately to mind? In most cases, we think of a male aggressor abusing his partner, most likely a female. Naturally, a majority of domestic violence is male vs. female aggression. At the same time, however, it is essential to realize how many different forms domestic violence can take. If the abuse is occurring between parents and children, we always assume the parent is harming the child. It’s hard to imagine it being the other way around. Still, these cases do happen, and they can be incredibly challenging to manage. There is a large amount of shame and embarrassment that can come from suffering in these home situations. Shame, guilt, and confusion can prevent people in domestic abuse situations from seeking help. Unfortunately, not too many people are aware of these situations, and they absolutely deserve to be known. 

Violence and Rage in Young Children

Take a recent article from Kaiser Health News that was published last month. The article tells the story of a couple who fostered two siblings and eventually adopted them. The two children were a girl and her older brother. For the most part, both kids were wonderful children, but around the ages of 3 and 4, the son began to exhibit intense episodes of rage. Simple actions could send him into fits of rage that would last hours. These episodes included flipping or throwing furniture, screaming at his parents, and threatening them. The mother explains that as the son grew older, he also became more dangerous. Most of his anger was directed at his foster mother, but he also showed a willingness to hit and throw objects at his father. The boy had been in therapy since he was quite young. While his anger and rage likely came from trauma experienced as a child, they could not help him find a way to manage and regulate his emotions. Eventually, they decided to send their son to a residential facility where he now lives. It was a harrowing decision, one that no parent ever wants to make. Without any other options available, however, the parents were forced to protect their home and their other children. 

An Agonizing Decision

It took them a long time to reach that decision, and they had a lot of fear in pursuing help beyond the therapy their son was receiving. This is an example of a big problem in these kinds of situations: a lack of awareness. There just aren’t a lot of known incidences. As a result, there isn’t a lot of research on the topic, and not many people understand these situations. Our society isn’t geared to accept the fact that we may be experiencing a domestic violence case with our children being the aggressor. If a parent is experiencing these things, they are not likely to speak out, as they view it as their own failure instead. But there is actually no failure to speak of, on either side. These children are dealing with something incredibly difficult, and they deserve to be loved and helped through it. On the other hand, the parents are trying their best and should be reassured that they have not failed. Studies have shown that the prevalence of child-on-parent violence ranges from 5% to 22%, which means several million families may be affected by it. It is a big issue that is more prevalent than you might think. Unfortunately, we just don’t talk about it enough, and there is not enough discussion on how we can help these children and their parents. 

De-Stigmatizing the Struggles of Abuse Victims

If we can begin to talk about these problems, we can start to understand that no blame needs to be placed. We need to alleviate the loneliness that these parents are suffering. There needs to be a better way for them to get help. As with all mental health issues, we need to continue to work towards the future we want so that no one is left behind. These parents deserve our help, these kids deserve our love, and these situations deserve to be talked about. Remember that we are here to help each other, as we are all connected. Our ability to connect and empathize is one of the greatest gifts we have as humans. 

If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with anxiety or mental illness, do not hesitate to contact the team here at True Recovery. Our program, founded in 2014, is built around finding what’s best for you to overcome your addiction. Our facility is located in Newport Beach, California, with our supportive housing located close to our campus in Costa Mesa. Take advantage of the local beaches, nature preserves, and Orange County community while we fight for you. Contact us at (866) 399-6528 or [email protected]