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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 violence

Many researchers have concluded that some children who witness or are victims of domestic violence experience a profound and lasting impact on their lives and hopes for the future. “A child’s developing brain can mistakenly encode the violence,” says Children of Domestic Violence, adding that kids can grow up believing that violence is normal and that they are to blame for it. The statistics and studies below reinforce that belief, and that stopping domestic violence long-term and “breaking the cycle of violence” heavily relies on raising children in environments free of violence.

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  • Appear emotionless or extremely withdrawn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