Children may naturally feel an instinct to defend and protect loved ones in times of danger, potentially responding by lashing out at the perpetrator. Unfortunately, this can lead to the perpetrator retaliating, causing injury or emotional trauma to the children. Consequently, children might harbor feelings of responsibility for not preventing the incident.
These experiences can result in lasting effects such as personality defects, challenges in forming long-term relationships, and a fear or anxiety surrounding the opposite gender. Observable behaviors may include fear of rejection, separation anxiety, withdrawal, extreme anger issues, and an inclination to be overly protective of the abused individual in the home.
The impact on children can set off a downward spiral, manifesting in low self-esteem and possibly driving them toward unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as alcohol or drugs. In some cases, it may even lead to the child entering the care system.