Alexandrea Scott remembers her father violently attacking her mother when she was 7.
Her father was convicted of felony spousal abuse.
Scott, now 21 and a senior at University of California, Berkeley, was rarely physically abused, but said she still experiences anxiety whenever she remembers her father’s violence towards her mother.
Scott is working with the Sacramento Police Department and anti-violence advocates to raise awareness of the effects that domestic violence has on children.
Even children who aren’t directly hit but are witnesses to domestic violence suffer physical, mental and emotional health problems, advocates and medical experts say.
With the worsening economy, advocates fear more children will be exposed to domestic violence, said Margaux Rooney, director of programs at Women Escaping a Violent Environment, which provides services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in Sacramento County.
Sacramento police spokesman Sgt. Norm Leong said the department has applied for a $3,000 grant to print pamphlets promoting awareness of this issue.
Besides having a higher risk of depression, substance abuse and juvenile delinquency, children from violent homes also are at higher risk of heart problems and obesity, experts say. Development of the brain can also be impaired.
Mark Throckmorton, an ordained minister and director of Manalive Sacramento Inc., a nonprofit organization that counsels batterers, said he struck his ex-wife in front of their 2-year-old daughter about 12 years ago.
And he recalls his daughter mimicking him, growling and threatening to hurl objects to get her way.
“It was really a wake-up call,” Throckmorton said. “If we are able to address the violence in households at the early age, we would address a certain number of issues in society, such as substance abuse, divorce and the next generation carrying on the violence.”