There is growing empirical evidence regarding the positive correlation between children living in violence-ridden family environments and their impaired development in the physical, cognitive, emotional, behavioral, and social domains. The purpose of this paper is to conceptualize the experience of children who are exposed to violence perpetrated by their father against their mother and suggest a constructivist theoretical model which may serve as the basis for further hypothesizing and intervention. A brief review of the pertinent literature serves as the basis for identifying four constructs used by children who are exposed to such violence in order to come to terms with it (e.g., living with a secret, living in conflict of loyalties, living in terror and fear, and living in an aggressive and dominance-oriented context). The various world views underlying these constructs are described, analyzed and discussed. The model suggests two dimensions along which these constructs can be analyzed (level of acknowledgment and loyalty to one or the other parent), and elaborates the process by which they become established. The possible options of locating specific children along these two dimensions are suggested. Some implications for research and differential intervention are proposed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science