How does family violence affect my children?

Chances are if your spouse, ex-spouse or boyfriend is abusing you, your children are being hurt as well.

Children who see violence at home are more likely to have many emotional and behavioral problems. They may become quiet and withdrawn. They may have nightmares. They may even blame themselves for what their parents are doing. Other children may act out, become violent themselves, and become so protective of their feelings that they lose the ability to feel for others. Because of the bad feelings from home, children may do poorly in school.

Does your child have a problem sleeping? Does she complain of stomach aches or headaches? Does he seem down and depressed? These are signs that your children are being affected and need help.

Your child may be in danger of being hurt as well. In 30 to 60 percent of families where there is family violence, children are being hurt, too. About half of the men who hurt their wives, hurt their children as well.

Growing up in a home where there is violence has a lasting effect on children. Boys are more likely to grow up to be men who hurt their wives and children. Girls are more likely to grow up to be women with low self-esteem, and end up in abusive relationships with boyfriends or husbands.

Unfortunately, spouse abuse can become worse when the woman becomes pregnant. Sometimes, the abuse begins during pregnancy. If you are beaten when you are pregnant, your baby can be born underweight, with infections, brain damage or even broken bones.

To learn more:

Child and Adolescent Health
(Futures Without Violence)
This site provides information about the relationship between spouse abuse and child abuse, and links to prevention programs.
https://www.futureswithoutviolence.org/child-adolescent-health/
Emerging Responses to Children Exposed to Domestic Violence
(VAWnet)
This study by Dr. Jeffrey Edleson from the University of Minnesota, explains research on what happens to children who see violence in their homes.
https://vawnet.org/material/emerging-responses-children-exposed-domestic-vi
olence
U.S. State Child Data
(Children's Defense Fund)
Children's Defense Fund supplies facts and national statistics about children who are abused and neglected, including children in foster care and in families with drug and alcohol problems.
https://www.childrensdefense.org/reports/2017/the-state-of-americas-childre
n-2017-report/

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Written by: Laura Cousineau, M.L.S.
Reviewed by: Jim Hernandez, L.M.S.W.
Last Modified: Thursday August 30, 2018 10:01 PM