CHILDREN & DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Children are often considered the “hidden” victims in families where domestic violence occurs. Studies have estimated that 3.3 - 10 million children witness domestic violence each year. Children, like their adult caregivers, experience trauma from the physical and verbal abuse in the home.

Children can show a variety of problems, due to exposure to domestic violence.  For example, it can prevent their success in school and other social settings. Also, 30% to 60% of perpetrators of domestic violence abuse children in the household.

Source: NCCADV

Impact of Exposure to Domestic Violence

Newborn - 5
  • Sleep and/or eating disruptions
  • Withdrawal/lack of responsiveness
  • Intense/pronounced separation anxiety
  • Inconsolable crying
  • Developmental regression, loss of acquired skills
  • Intense anxiety, worries, and/or new fears
  • Increased aggression and/or impulsive behavior
Source: NCCADV
Ages 6 - 11
  • Nightmares, sleep disruptions
  • Aggression and difficulty with peer relationships in school
  • Difficulty with concentration and task completion in school
  • Withdrawal and/or emotional numbing
  • School avoidance and/or truancy 
*Adapted from National Child Traumatic Stress Network
Source: NCCADV
Ages 12 - 18
  • Antisocial behavior
  • School failure
    Impulsive and/or reckless behavior, e.g.,
  • School truancy
  • Substance abuse
  • Running away
  • Involvement in violent or abusive dating relationships
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Withdrawal
Source: NCCADV

There are a number of evidenced based programs to help children, such as The Incredible Years. There are also therapeutic modalities such as Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Parent Child Interaction Therapy. These programs and therapies have been shown to be effective in helping children exposed to domestic violence. There are a number of evidenced based programs to help children, such as “The Incredible Years.” There are also therapeutic modalities such as Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Parent Child Interaction Therapy. These programs and therapies have been shown to be effective in helping children exposed to domestic violence. 

The major emphases for children's healing in these programs and therapies are:

  • increasing a child’s sense of physical and emotional safety 

  • developing self-esteem and stronger social skills

  • developing respect for others

  • fostering a sense of control of one’s life

Source: NCCADV