Effects on Children

Domestic abuse can significantly effect the lives of children, both now and later in life. Some of these effects include:

  • Increased risk of child abuse.
  • In homes where there is spousal violence, the likelihood of child abuse is 15 times higher.
  • Seventy-five percent of men who abuse their spouses go on to abuse the children as well.
  • Women are eight times more likely to hurt their children when they are being abused than when they are safe.
  • Increased risk of violent and abusive behaviors.
  • Adolescent males who see abuse in the home are ten times more likely to abuse their future spouse than those raised in a non-violent home.
  • Girls who see abuse in the home are more likely to become involved in abusive relationships than those who don’t are.
  • Seventy-five percent of violent children come from homes with domestic violence.

Emotional Trauma – Children may feel:

  • Guilty about the abuse and for not stopping it
  • Abuse is their fault
  • Excessive grief for family problems/loss and for personal loss
  • Confused about conflicting feelings toward the parents: love, hate, fear
  • Fear of abandonment, the unknown, and personal injury
  • Anger about the violence and the chaos in their lives
  • Depressed
  • Helpless
  • Powerless
  • Embarrassed about events and dynamics at home.

Behavioral problems (often seen in opposite extremes)

  • Act out/withdraw
  • Overachieve/underachieve
  • Needy/overly independent
  • Low self-esteem/overbearing
  • Passive/aggressive
  • Refuse to go to school

Other behavioral problems:

  • Become caretakers for younger siblings and for parent(s)
  • Act aloof, sarcastic, defensive
  • Wet bed
  • Frequent nightmares
  • Trouble setting own limits and/or following directions
  • May scream excessively when infants

Social Difficulties

  • Isolated from friends and relatives
  • Relationships are frequently stormy, start intensely and end abruptly
  • Difficulty in trusting, especially adults
  • Poor conflict resolution and anger management skills
  • Excessive social involvement (avoid home life)
  • May be overly passive with peers, or bully peers
  • Engage in exploitive relationships either as perpetrator or victim
  • Play with peers gets exceedingly rough.

Physical Problems

  • Somatic complaints (headaches, stomachaches)
  • Stuttering
  • Nervous, anxious and a short attention span
  • Tired, lethargic
  • Frequently ill
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Regress to previous developmental stages such as: bedwetting, thumb sucking
  • Desensitization to pain
  • High-risk play and activities
  • Self abuse