What About the CHILDREN?

dv image 20Domestic violence affects every member of the family, including the children. Family violence creates a home environment where children live in constant fear.  Children who witness family violence are affected in ways similar to children who are physically abused.  They are often unable to establish nurturing bonds with either parent. Children are at greater risk for abuse and neglect if they live in a violent home. 

Statistics show that over 3 million children witness violence in their home each year. Those who see and hear violence in the home suffer physically and emotionally.  “Families under stress produce children under stress.  If a spouse is being abused and there are children in the home, the children are affected by the abuse.” (Ackerman & Pickering)

 Dynamics of domestic violence are unhealthy for children:

  • Control of family by one dominant member
  • Abuse of a parent
  • Isolation
  • Protecting the “family secret”

Children react to their environment in different ways, and reactions can vary depending on the child’s gender and age.

Children exposed to family violence are more likely to develop social, emotional, psychological and/or behavioral problems than those who o are not.  Recent research indicates that children who witness domestic violence show more anxiety, low self-esteem, depression, anger and temperament problems, than children who do not witness violence in the home.  The trauma they experience can show up in emotional, behavioral, social and physical disturbances that effect their development and can continue into adulthood. 

Some potential effects:

    grief for family and personal losses
    shame, guilt, and self-blame
    confusion about conflicting feelings toward parents
    fear of abandonment, or expressing emotions, the unknown or personal injury
    depression and feelings of helplessness and powerlessness
    acting out or withdrawing
    aggressive or passive
    refusing to go to school
    caretaking; acting as a parent substitute
    lying to avoid confrontation
    rigid defenses
    excessive attention seeking
    bedwetting and nightmares
    out of control behavior
    reduced intellectual competency
    manipulation, dependency, mood swings
    isolation from friends and relative
    stormy relationships
    ifficulty in trusting, especially adults
    poor anger management and problem solving skills
    excessive social involvement to avoid home
    passivity with peers or bullying
    engaged in exploitative relationships as perpetrator or victim
    somatic complaints, headaches and stomachaches
    nervous, anxious, short attention span
    ired and lethargic
    frequently ill
    poor personal hygiene
    regression in development
    high risk play


Leave a Reply