‘Walking on Thin Ice’: The Pervasive Degeneration of the Family Dynamic in Homes Where Domestic Violence is a Lived Reality and Where Children under the Age of 18 Experience Abuse
Nova Science Publishers
Place of Publication
New York, USA.
Taylor, M.F., Pooley, J.A., & Taylor, R.S.
School of Medical and Health Sciences
This chapter documents the participants‘ narratives of their childhood experiences of maltreatment. Its core theme: ‗The pervasive degeneration of the family dynamic in homes where domestic violence is a lived reality and where children under the age of 18 experience abuse‘, encapsulates the four themes and ten subthemes (see Table 1) that emerged from the analysis of the participants‘ accounts of the abuse they had witnessed and experienced as a child. Collectively, these sub/themes provide a much needed insight into the lives of boys growing up in a dysfunctional and abusive family environment. The first theme: An intergenerational history of child maltreatment captures participants‘ reflections on the types of maltreatment they experienced as a child. The second theme: Reasons for abuse reveals how participants considered their child maltreatment experiences to be a consequence of their parents‘ inappropriate parenting practices, unrealistically high expectations, excessive consumption of alcohol, and mental illness. Moreover, in order to hide the existence of domestic violence and child abuse within the family home, participants‘ reported that their non-abusing parent either denied the maltreatment, ignored the maltreatment, or cloaked it in a veil of secrecy in their attempt to maintain a happy family façade‘. As a result, participants stated their childhood experiences of maltreatment became normalised. The third theme: A realization that child abuse and family dysfunction are not societal norms reveals that as participants entered their mid-to-late adolescent years they began to take more proactive steps towards preventing or stopping the maltreatment. In the fourth and final theme the participants‘ Conflicted memories of being raised in a dysfunctional family are described. Each of these four themes is explained in greater depth below.