Domestic Abuse & Children


Each year, an estimated 3.3 million children are exposed to violence by family members against their mothers and caretakers. American Psychl. Ass'n, Violence and the Family: Report of the American Psychological Association Presidential Task Force on Violence and the Family (1996), p. 11.

In homes where partner abuse occurs, children are 1,500 times more likely to be abused. Dept. of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance, Family Violence: Interventions for the Justice System, 1993.

In a national survey of more than 2,000 American families, approximately 50% of the men who frequently assaulted their wives also frequently abused their children. Strauss & Gelles, Physical Violence in Families, 1990.

Slightly more than half of female victims of intimate partner violence live in households with children under age 12. U.S. Dept. of Justice, Violence by Intimates: Analysis of Data on Crimes by Current or Former Spouses, Boyfriends and Girlfriends, March 1998.

Unfortunately, children are impacted by family violence, even if they are in other rooms or have gone to bed. Children can hear the fighting; they can sense the tension in the room; they can see the aftermath of the abuse. Children may see their parent crying or the bruises and marks left behind; they may hear the sirens and see the police officers, EMT's and the chaos that is happening in their homes.







EFFECTS OF ABUSE ON THE CHILDREN
It is important to remember that children are not just "little adults". They may not be able, or know how, to talk about what they have seen or are feeling. Children who are exposed to domestic violence may develop emotional, cognitive, or behavioral problems. Childhood symptoms of exposure to domestic abuse may include, but are not limited to:

    * Poor concentration/attention
    * Excessive fears or phobias
    * Anxiety or irritability
    * Decrease self esteem
    * Numbing of emotions
    * Belief that the child him/herself is responsible for the abuse
    * Feelings of guilt, shame, anger, or sadness
    * Aggression
    * Sleep difficulties
    * Regression
    * Reenactment of trauma through talk and play

What You Can Do to Help a Child Exposed to Domestic Abuse

If you suspect that your child has been exposed to abuse, even if they were not directly abused, support is available. Please call us at  256-775-2600.