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Shelter: (605) 996-2765 Hotline: (605) 996-4440 Visitation Center: 605-996-8880

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Impact on Children

Some of the biggest victims of domestic violence are the smallest.

I see violenceIn 85% of police calls for domestic violence, children had witnessed the violence. For too many children, home is far from the safe haven it should be.

Children need a safe and secure home, free of violence, and parents that love and protect them.

They need to have a sense of routine and stability so that when things go wrong in their world, home is a place of comfort, help and support.

Every year hundreds of millions of children watch one parent violently assaulting another. They hear the sounds of violence and almost always are aware of the many signs of abuse.

Many of these children are suffering silently and with little support.

Witnessing parental violence is a risk factor for children and adolescents to:

  • Be harmed when they intervene in an assault
  • Exhibit violent, risky or delinquent behavior
  • Suffer from depression or severe anxiety
  • Have difficulty learning
  • Limited social skills
  • Display attitudes supporting the use of violence
  • Use drugs and alcohol
  • Use violence in their own intimate relationships
  • Continue the cycle of violence into the next generation

Correlation of Domestic Violence and Child Abuse

The overlap between child abuse and domestic violence in the same family is high. One study found that half the children who were abused were caught in the middle of an inter-parental attack. In 60% of the cases where the partner is being abused, so are the children.

Mothers who are in battering relationships are eight times more likely to hurt their children while they were being battered than while they were safe from violence.

Children from violent homes are 74% more likely to commit crimes against persons.

This is how I see my father because he often gets angry and drunk and his eyes turn red.

A good way to understand the effects of Domestic Violence on children is to look at their drawings.

An eight-year-old was asked to draw a picture of his father.

He wrote in Spanish:

“This is how I see my father because he often gets angry and drunk and his eyes turn red.”

What Does Trauma Look Like?

Children who may need professional help:

  • Cry easily or constantly
  • Appear emotionless or extremely withdrawn
  • Have repeated or intrusive thoughts about the event
  • Have trouble sleeping and/or nightmares
  • Behavior “triggered” by a sound, smell, or other reminder of the experience
  • Have difficulty concentrating
  • Worry excessively leading to physical complaints (i.e. stomachaches)

Supporting Children Affected by Domestic Violence

  • Help children learn that domestic violence is wrong and learn non-violent methods of resolving conflicts.
  • Teach children to put feelings into words.
  • Children need to know that there are adults who will listen to them, believe them and shelter them.
  • Validate children’s feelings about their parents.
  • Create a predictable world-children need a sense of routine and normalcy
  • Provide structure and clear expectations.
  • Pay close attention to non-verbal cues.
  • Avoid struggles for power and control.
  • Model healthy and respectful relationships.
  • Give children choices whenever possible.
  • Create opportunities for children to be successful (i.e. sports, music, art, academics, peer relationships).

Shelter: (605) 996-2765  •  Hotline: (605) 996-4440  •  Visitation Center: 605-996-8880

Mitchell Area Safehouse and Family Visitation Center
1809 North Wisconsin, Mitchell, South Dakota 57301