How Children are Affected

When children are a part of a family coping with domestic violence, their unique needs must be considered. Whether the non-abusive parent is trying to provide more safety while staying within the home or is attempting to leave, having children makes the situation far more complex.

Domestic violence has an enormous impact on children's lives, causing both external and internal symptoms. Being a bystander to violence may be as traumatic as being a direct victim. It is a horrifying and helpless feeling for a child on the other side of a door where he/she knows abuse is occurring. There can be lasting emotional, behavioral, physical, social and cognitive effects of domestic violence for children.

There is no age at which a child is immune to the effects of exposure to domestic violence. Domestic abuse is perhaps the most toxic form of exposure to violence for young children, precisely because it happens in the one place they most deserve to feel safe by the people they most love and upon whom they place their highest trust.

A child's reaction to trauma is directly related to a parent's ability to cope. The relationship between the non-abusive parent and the child is an especially significant bond in helping children cope with and heal from domestic abuse.

Children who’ve witnessed or been personally victimized by domestic abuse may display any of the following:

Emotional Effects

Behavioral Effects

Physical Effects

Social Effects

Cognitive Effects

Trauma Affects

Helping Children Cope

Adults outside the immediate family who have contact with children from an abusive home can provide some support that will foster coping skills and healing for the children, whether those adults are other relatives, teachers, advocates, school counselors, coaches, clergy, family friends, etc. Some tips for adults who want to help:

Depressed teen

Addressing Youth Dating Violence

Parents of preteens and teens need to inform themselves about youth dating violence and must be vigilant in looking for the signs that their daughter or son is involved in an unhealthy formative dating relationship.

Some staggering statistics about youth dating violence:

Indicators Your Teen may be Abused

Helping Your Teen Through Dating Abuse

Things NOT to Say or Do