Domestic Violence – Part 2: The Effect of Domestic Violence on Children

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This is the second in a series of blogs on domestic violence and healthy relationships which we originally posted last year in honor of October’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  We are reposting these blogs because the information is still so important. Check back every Monday in October for upcoming blogs on Why People Abuse and Why Victims Stay.

It is estimated that at least 10 – 20% of American children are exposed to domestic violence in their homes. The effects on children vary widely. Some children are very resilient and continue to function in relatively healthy ways. But many children suffer from long-term effects.

Children who see, hear or are aware of violence at home are much more likely to get hurt themselves – either by getting hit directly or being ‘caught in the crossfire’ and hurt accidentally. Even when they are not hurt physically, they are usually hurt emotionally. They are much more likely to get in trouble for fighting with peers, do poorly in school, be diagnosed with learning disorders, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, or other mental health problems like depression or anxiety. As adolescents, they are at greater risk of substance abuse, dating violence, suicide, and a whole host of other social and emotional problems.

The cycle of violence in a family all too often repeats itself from generation to generation. And it impacts not only the family, but all of society, not only because of the cost in the health care and criminal justice arenas, but because those same child witnesses are more likely to grow up to commit not only intimate partner abuse, but many other forms of violence in the community. 

If a child you know is being exposed to domestic violence, call one of the numbers below to find out how you can help:

The Children’s Aid Society – Family Wellness Program   212-503-6842
NYC Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-621-HOPE (4673)
National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-699-SAFE (TDD 800-787-3224)
National Teen Dating Violence Hotline 1-866-331-9474 (TTY 866-331-8453)