When one adult physically or emotionally abuses another in a household that contains children, the adult victim isn’t the only one who suffers.
In the room where the abuse is happening, or even down the hallway, a child who sees or hears the abuse is also at risk.
The National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence found:
- One in four children (26 percent) were exposed to at least one form of family violence during their lifetimes.
- Sixty-eight percent of these youth who witnessed family violence, witnessed acts committed only by males, although assaults by mothers and other caregivers were also common.
And according to a Futures Without Violence fact sheet:
- 15.5 million U.S. children live in families in which partner violence occurred at least once in the past year, and seven million children live in families in which severe partner violence occurred.
- In a single day in 2007, 13,485 children were living in a domestic violence shelter or transitional housing facility. Another 5,526 sought services at a non-residential program.
- The UN Secretary-General’s Study on Violence Against Children conservatively estimates that 275 million children worldwide are exposed to violence in the home.
Exposure to domestic violence can be harmful to a child’s physical, emotional and intellectual development. Studies have shown that children who are exposed to violence live in a constant state of alertness and crisis that can produce changes to the brain and impair their coping or functioning skills. And exposure to domestic violence can also greatly increase a child’s risk of experiencing other types of violence. For example, a young girl who sees her mother abused by her father could be at a higher risk of becoming a victim of teen dating violence or bullying.
And the impact of violence experienced at home isn’t confined within the walls of the home. Exposure can affect their performance in other areas, like school, and negatively impact children well into adulthood.
For the next 31 days our Domestic Violence Awareness Month efforts will focus on domestic violence’s impact on children. We have many new exciting resources to share including a new infographic and an issue brief for domestic violence agencies and shelters. Stick around for more information on those and be sure to join in the conversation on our Facebook and Twitter pages.