Is there a generational cycle of abuse? Some of these examples of the impacts on children of living with domestic violence would suggest that children are growing up to replicate aspects of the behavior they themselves were subject to. In other words, research has shown that there is a cycle of abuse whereby patterns of abusive behavior are passed down through the generations.
Violence is a learned behavior that often is self-perpetuating. In fact, the single most influential factor of domestic violence in society is the continuation of a generational cycle of abuse and/or a history of abuse in the family of origin. When children bear witness to violence, they learn that the people you love the most may hurt you and the violence is the only way to handle conflict. Fear becomes a normal part of life. This is the way people are supposed to act. Women who saw their mother abused may grow to believe that if a man doesn't abuse them, he must not love them. And, as they learn, a generational cycle begins in which children grow up to either be abused or to be the abuser.
In addition, the link between domestic violence and child abuse, both emotional and physical, cannot be ignored. Domestic violence or child abuse rarely exist alone. When there is violence in a home it is often multifaceted. Children are frequently involved in episodes of domestic violence, either as witnesses, victims, or participants when they intervene to protect their mothers. This form of family violence can have a profound influence on the child. Those who have been abused in childhood may abuse or neglect their own children, perpetuating an inter-generational cycle of abuse. Violence begets violence. Child abuse, like domestic violence, replicates itself across generations.
A cycle of abuse is rarely broken without outside help. Without effective intervention, domestic violence becomes an inter-generational cycle. Abusers must confront and take responsibility for the verbal and physical abusive patterns of behavior. Both victim and abuser need to consider professional counseling as a means to stop the cycle of abuse. If you cannot find or cannot afford professional help, seek out public services to address the abuse in your home before it spirals out of control.