The effects of witnessing Domestic violence in children

The effects of witnessing Domestic violence in children

Domestic violence is any action by a person that causes physical harm to one or more members of his or her family. For example, it involves one partner battering the other, violence against children by a parent, or violence against elders by younger family members. Domestic violence is an ongoing experience of physical and psychological abuse in the house where one partner establishes abusive power and control over the other.

The primary victim of domestic violence is the spouse, who is being physically abused by the other partner, and the secondary victims are the children who are witnessing the violence. Children can feel the violence emotionally, and they feel helpless in the aftermath of physical violence or seeing a parent with the injury. They feel threatened and unsafe within their family at their own house.

There is considerable evidence suggesting that children who witness domestic violence can have adverse consequences. Domestic violence has a long-term and short-term impact on children. Children who are exposed to domestic violence experience emotional, mental, and social damage that affects their development and overall well-being. They develop a range of age-dependent negative effects. These children are at risk of internalizing behaviors such as anxiety disorders and mood disorders and externalizing behaviors such as fighting, bullying, lying, and cheating.

Sadly, many parents believe that their child is young and won’t remember the incidents, but that is not true. Children are keen on observing, and try to rationalize the experiences at home. When left untreated or unaddressed, the trauma can last into adulthood, affecting their mental health. Their brain represses the memories and affects their mind, leading to mood and anxiety disorders. There are several theories that explain how a child’s body and mind develop over the years, through adolescence and to adulthood, and when they are constantly exposed to a traumatic environment, they face severe distress and despair, which affects their overall development and health.

Age Impact
  • Their attachment with the parents is disrupted
  • Failure to thrive
  • Sleep deprivation


Pre-school Children
  • Insecure
  • Separation Anxiety
  • Selective Mutism
  • Behavioral outburst
  • Regressive behavior
  • Bedwetting
School-aged Children
  •  Self-blame
  • Aggressive Behavior
  • Regressive Behavior
  • School truancy or poor performance in school.
  • Drug abuse
  • Self harm behavior
  • Mood disorder/Emotional disturbances
  • Aggression

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