Domestic violence far more repetitive, severe than thought: Study

Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Wildfeuer). (Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Wildfeuer))

The early results of an investigation into the severity of domestic violence in the Netherlands showed that incidents are repeated in the same families far more frequently than previously thought. The Verwey-Jonker Instituut announced the results in conjunction with domestic violence hotline provider Veilig Thuis.

They are looking into the behavior of about 1,200 parents and 1,550 children.

Some 71 violent incidents were found on average over the course of a year within families that were reported to the hotline. In over half of the families, children either witness abuse between parents or are the subjects of abuse themselves. The average of 1.4 cases of violence per week surprised investigators.

"The consequences of domestic violence on children is much more serious than previously thought," a statement released on Monday read. "The violence is also much more violent than estimated up until now."

Roughly 40 percent of the kids involved have mental health issues related to traumatic moments, including symptoms of depression and anxiety. Meanwhile, many of the parents involved were either violently abused or witnessed it when they were children.

"If we want to break that circle of violence, then we must help and not blame the parents," said Dr. Majone Steketee, a professor at Erasmus University in Rotterdam and the general director of the Verwey-Jonker Instituut. She stressed the importance of getting children treatment as quickly as possible.

So far, 47 percent of the families with abuse fall below the poverty line. Roughly 40 percent of men and 30 percent of women involved use alcohol problematically.

The study will continue to 2021. Over 100 municipalities are participating in the research to get an accurate picture of the entire Dutch population, the institute said.