Effects of Domestic Violence On Children

When there is domestic violence in a home the children are victims regardless of whether or not they are the direct recipients of violent acts. Studies suggest that between 3.3 and 10 million children witness domestic violence annually. (1) These children are affected by observing the violence, their parents’ attitudes, their own feelings about the violence, and the messages they receive about the violence.

Not all children respond the same way to the trauma associated with domestic violence.

The following is a list of behaviors that can be found in children who witnessed domestic violence:

  • Blames self for the family violence, separations, divorce, and internal conflicts
  • School failure, absences from school, pre-delinquent and delinquent behavior
  • Higher risk for drug and alcohol abuse, sexually acting out
  • Anxious, intense separation anxiety, hyper vigilance, multiple fears, emotional withdrawal
  • Low self esteem, believing that they and their siblings have few options to succeed
  • Social isolation, peer isolation or complete identification with peers
  • Poor social skills
  • Limited tolerance for frustration and stress
  • Poor impulse control
  • Acting aggressively toward neutral behaviors – View other’s behavior as hostile even if it is not hostile
  • Sadness, depression, stress disorders, and psychosomatic complaints
  • Difficulty sleeping, night terrors, having trouble falling to sleep
  • Taking on parental roles

(1)Carlson, Bonnie E. (1084). Children’s observations of interpersonal violence. In A.R. Roberts (Ed.) Battered women and their families (pp. 147 – 167). NY: Springer. Straus, M.A. (1992). Children as witnesses to marital violence: A risk factor for lifelong problems among a nationally representative sample of American men and women. Report of the Twenty Third Ross Roundtable. Columbus, OH: Ross Laboratories.

180 can help children who have been traumatized by domestic violence. Call our domestic violence hotline with questions about your particular situation: (888) 843-9262.  Call Amanda’s Easel  for information hotline call (732) 787-6503 to find out about how the program might help your family.

Click here to find out about 2NDFLOOR®, our state-wide youth helpline