Children and Domestic Violence...
Domestic violence affects children negatively in many areas of their lives.
Children in violence homes often feel afraid and confused. They are traumatized emotionally even if they are not physically abused, but simply witness abuse between parents. They fear for the welfare of their parent and often feel helpless and depressed.
Children who witness family violence are at a higher risk to experience behavior problems produced by stress. Often times these children have low self-esteem, feel isolated, anxious, depressed, and experience frequent illness and mood swings.
Additionally, children learn by observing and see that violence works…it gets you what you want. Often children model their parent’s behavior. They tend to continue the pattern of family violence either as a victim or as an abuser.
Talk With Your Children:
- Tell them that violence is not their fault.
- Explain that the abuser’s behavior is wrong.
- Explain that feeling angry is OK, and teach them non-violent ways to express anger.
- Encourage them to express how they feel and be positive about police intervention, the criminal justice process and the future.
- Children who live in a home where battering occurs are likely to experience a variety of negative effects and problems.
- Children may be injured during an incident of violence, may suffer feelings of helplessness, may blame themselves for not preventing the violence or for causing it, and may be abused or neglected themselves.
- Children in violent homes face a dual threat: witnessing traumatic events and the threat of physical assault.
- Children living with domestic violence experience unnaturally high levels of anxiety.
- Children may suffer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (similar to what war veterans suffer) even after a single incident.
- Children exposed to domestic violence often experience difficulties in school.
- Children living in violent homes have more frequent incidents of truancy, theft, insomnia, temper tantrums, and violence toward others than children raised in a non-violent atmosphere.
- Studies indicate that boys exposed to family violence tend to be overly aggressive and disruptive.
- Studies show that girls who are exposed to family violence tend to withdraw and behave more passively than girls not exposed to violence.
- Children who live in abusive homes have a higher risk of juvenile delinquency and substance abuse.
It is extremely important for children who live in violent homes to have a simple safety plan...
Safety Plan for Children:
- Warn children to stay out of the adults' conflicts.
- Make a list of people the children can trust and talk to when they are feeling unsafe (neighbors, teachers, relatives, friends).
- Decide ahead of time on a safe place the children can go when they feel unsafe.
- Teach children how to use police and other emergency phone numbers.
- If the children continue to have problems as a result of the violence, be sure to seek counseling for them. Please see the referral list.