Children’s Experiences with Domestic Violence

The entire family system is affected by domestic violence in their lives, even if they are not the direct target of the abuse. Children experience domestic violence in a variety of ways. Sometimes parents do not recognize their children’s experiences with domestic violence, or the signs that children are experiencing emotional distress due to their experience with domestic violence.

If you have children and there is domestic violence in your home, it is important to get the support and help. Please contact your local domestic violence agency to learn about counseling services for children. You can find contact information for the domestic violence agency in your area of Helpful Resources.

Examples of How Children Experience Domestic Violence
  • Witnessing a violent act
  • Overhearing threats and abuse
  • Observing a parent who is out of control or reckless
  • Hearing about violent or threatening acts through others, and/or
  • Experiencing the after-effects of an assault
Ways Domestic Violence Affects Children
According to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, “domestic violence poses a serious threat to children’s emotional, psychological and physical well-being, particularly if the violence is chronic.”* Domestic violence does not affect all children equally or in the same way. Many show signs and symptoms of trauma; which can manifest in a variety of ways.

  • Anxiety and/or depression
  • Sleeplessness and/or Nightmares
  • High activity levels
  • Increased anger and/or aggression
  • Physical health problems
  • Poor school performance
  • Behavior problems
  • Substance abuse
  • Emotional difficulties
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