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Warnings can point to abuse

Lankard, C. (1999, November 1). Warnings can point to abuse. The Daily Oklahoman, p. 1B, 4B.


It is important for youth workers to understand the families of the children that they work with. According to this article, over half of men who beat their female partners also beat their children. So, if a youth worker senses that a spouse or partner is being abused, it would not be surprising that the children in the family are also being abused.

Additionally, young people who view domestic violence frequently have emotional and behavioral problems of their own. Notes Lankard, "Of boys ages 11 to 20 who commit homicide, 60 percent kill the man abusing their mother. Of the children exposed to violence, 30 percent become violent adults." It is essential to a child’s well-being to address domestic abuse as quickly as possible.

Abuse comes in many forms. Physical, verbal, emotional, sexual, economic abuses are typical, as is the destruction of property or pets. These acts are not only physically harmful, but they destroy a person’s trust, safety, and control. While domestic violence is widespread, only one in ten incidences is ever reported. Unless an effective, appropriate intervention occurs within the violent situation, the abuse always intensifies. Violence occurs within all socioeconomic, ethnic, religious, racial, and age groups. While women are usually the abused, men are victims, too. Men are more likely to be emotionally and verbally abused, and are highly unlikely to report it. Most abusers were young victims of abuse, or witnessed their mother’s abuse. The "battered wife" usually grew up in a similar household.

There are a few warning signals of a potential abuser:

  • Playful use of force in sex.
  • Verbal abuse.
  • Rigid sex roles.
  • Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde personality.
  • A past battering history.
  • Threats of violence.
  • Breaking or striking objects.
  • Use of force during any argument.

The abuser generally explains his or her behavior as a gesture of love and concern. Eventually, the actions increase in severity and begin to dominate the victim. There are several warning signs indicating that a person may become abusive.

  • Jealousy.
  • Controlling behavior.
  • Quick involvement.
  • Unrealistic expectations.
  • Isolation.
  • Blames others for his or her problems.
  • Blames others for his or her feelings.
  • Hypersensitivity.
  • Cruelty to animals or children.


  1. Have you been in an abusive home? What was it like?
  2. How would you respond if a young person told you that he or she was being abused? If their parent was being abused? If their sibling was being abused?
  3. Have you worked with children from abusive homes? Does this article substantiate your experience with the abuse?
  4. What are the special needs of children who witness or receive abuse?
  5. What long-term problems have you seen in these children?
  6. How can you help these children?


  1. Many and perhaps all states require citizens to report suspected abuse. Be familiar with the laws in your area.
  2. Children who are abused or who witness abuse are destroyed in many ways. Their hearts and perhaps bodies must be rebuilt.
  3. Some children will lash out in anger. Others will focus within. Still others will attempt to cover it up. Learn the different ways that children react to abuse. Learn how to respond to each of those types of children.
  4. Additional resources are available through local and national hotlines and programs. Seek one near you to help the victim, the abuser, and any witnesses to the violence.
Kathryn Q. Powers cCYS