chapter  1
10 Pages

Exposure to Interparental Violence

What does it mean to say that children are "exposed" to interparental violence? Exposure is a broad term, and exposure to interparental violence is more easily defined anecdotally than scientifically. In everyday life children and youth may be exposed to physically aggressive behaviors between their parents or caregivers in a number of ways. For example, they may be exposed through being physically present in the room where the aggression is taking place, thereby receiving through all of their senses information about this conflict: the sight of pushing and hitting; the sound of yelling or crying; the smell of blood or gunpowder; the feel of being shoved against a wall when trying to intervene; and the taste of fear. Other forms of exposure may involve fewer of their senses, such as hearing terrified screams or someone being pushed against a wall or door, or seeing the resulting injuries such as a mother's black eye or damage to property such as a hole in the wall, or sensing the tension or dread in the spousal relationship.