Domestic Violence and Children

The Facts

  • Slightly more than half of female victims of intimate partner violence live in households with children under the age of 12.
  • Each year about 324,000 pregnant women in the U.S. are battered by the men in their lives.
  • In addition to actually observing violent acts, children can be harmed by:
    • Witnessing the act of forcible rape of an adult parent
    • Witnessing the physical, sexual, or emotional abuse of a sibling
    • Overhearing some form of violent threat or abusive act
    • Seeing the results of assaults (bruises, torn clothes, broken furniture, etc.)
    • Being court-ordered to visit with the adult perpetrator without any or adequate emotional safeguards or supervised visitation
    • Being emotionally neglected
    • Witnessing the abuse of a pet
    • Suffering isolation
    • Engaging the child in abuse of the parent, other children, or pets
    • Hearing constant threats
    • Being held hostage
    • Being subject to interrogation about the abused partner’s activities

Possible Affects of Witnessing Domestic Violence on Children

  • Anxiety
  • Low self-esteem
  • Depression
  • Shyness
  • Suicide attempts
  • Withdrawal
  • Trauma/stress reactions
  • Feelings of loss/anger/sadness/confusion
  • Self-blame
  • Physical problems
  • School problems
  • Social incompetence
  • Low empathy
  • Poor problem-solving, non-violent resolution, and conflict resolution skills
  • Acceptance/legitimization
  • Poor cognition
  • Externalizing behavior problems
  • Aggression
  • Alcohol and drug use

Safe, Non-Abusive Family Systems Provide Infants, Children, and Teens With:

  • Physical and emotional safety
  • Spontaneous emotion
  • Order/consistency
  • Predictability
  • Support for personal rights and freedoms
  • Emotional nurturance
  • Values, validation of feelings, thoughts, ideas, and individuality
  • Physical needs (shelter, nutrition, clothing, medical attention)
  • Encouragement to realize their potential
  • Positive role models
  • Persistent state of calm and feelings of safety
Emergency Exit