How Does Witnessing Domestic Violence Affect Children?

 How Does Witnessing Domestic Violence Affect Children?

How Does Witnessing Domestic Violence Affect Children_ichhori.webp

Domestic violence victims are bound to suffer from physical assaults, emotional maltreatment, and other forms of abuse.

While the horrors of abuse are obvious in primary victims, children who watch the violence of their mothers, fathers, or other family members are also affected.

This article aims to investigate the long-term psychological and physical implications of a child's exposure to domestic violence. To lessen the danger of these impacts, it is equally necessary to highlight ways in which children can be kept safe.

How Witnessing Domestic Violence Affects Children

Domestic violence is an unsettling characteristic of many American families since it is all too common across the country. Domestic abuse affects an estimated 10 million individuals each year, a figure that rises when silent victims, such as children, are included.

In 2010, one in every fifteen children was exposed to intimate partner violence, with an alarming one in every three youngsters also experiencing acts of violence.

Domestic abuse can have immediate repercussions on children, but it can also have long-term consequences. Some of the direct consequences that children face as a result of seeing domestic abuse are outlined below.


Children are more likely to be on edge if they are constantly exposed to the abuse of one parent by the other. These children will wait with bated breath for the next time physical or verbal abuse occurs in their home. This might lead to a mood of constant anxiousness. 2

It is not uncommon for preschoolers who experience this to revert to the practices of younger children. Seeing maltreatment may cause thumb sucking, bedwetting, excessive weeping, and whining.

School-aged youngsters can acquire anti-social behaviours and experience shame as a result of seeing abuse. These children frequently blame themselves for their parent's maltreatment, which can severely damage their self-esteem.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

One of the most serious consequences of domestic abuse is the ability of children raised in such environments to develop post-traumatic stress disorder.

Even though children are not physically abused, the trauma of domestic violence is enough to create hazardous alterations in their developing brains. These alterations may result in nightmares, changes in sleep patterns, rage, irritability, difficulties concentrating, and youngsters may occasionally be able to re-enact portions of the traumatic maltreatment observed.

Physical Challenges

Witnessing a parent's maltreatment is a common cause of mental health problems. These implications, though, may sometimes be visible in their bodily well-being.

School-aged youngsters may experience headaches and stomach issues as a result of the uncomfortable environment at home. Following a steady stream of abuse from a parent, infants are at a higher chance of enduring physical injury.

Aggressive Behaviour

When teenagers witness domestic abuse, they frequently act out in response. They may quarrel, miss school, engage in unsafe sexual behaviour, or experiment with drugs and alcohol. These youths are also more prone to run afoul of the law. 

Physical Abuse

Children who grow up in abusive homes are more likely to be subjected to this type of treatment themselves.

An abusive partner can quickly become an abusive parent or guardian, abusing their children physically, verbally, and emotionally.

Long-Term Consequences of Witnessing Domestic Violence

Distance, no matter how beneficial, isn't enough to heal the damage inflicted by witnessing domestic abuse.

Children who grew up seeing their parents' maltreatment are more likely to endure long-term consequences. Some of the long-term consequences that children face as a result of seeing domestic violence are discussed below.


A nervous youngster who grows up in a poisonous, abusive environment may develop into a depressed adult. The trauma of seeing domestic violence regularly puts children at an increased risk of developing depression, melancholy, concentration problems, and other depressive symptoms in adulthood.

Health Problems

Adult-onset illnesses such as heart disease, obesity, and diabetes may not always be caused by a poor diet or environmental factors.

In certain circumstances, these illnesses are directly related to the physical, emotional, and verbal abuse that a kid witnesses or experiences.

Repeating Abusive Patterns

While abusive behaviour can be repeated, it is crucial to remember that abuse does not always follow a cyclical pattern. Indeed, presuming that violence happens in cycles can lead to victim blaming. Abuse can be unpredictable, and it is never acceptable.

Witnessing violence and feeling the agony and anguish that comes with it does not necessarily guarantee that youngsters will choose a better route. In some circumstances, early exposure to maltreatment just prepares youngsters to walk the same line as adults.

In these situations, male children may physically assault their partners after witnessing their fathers do it. Similarly, women who grow up in families where there is domestic violence are more likely to be sexually attacked by their spouses.

Protecting Children from Domestic Abuse

Knowing that domestic violence can have long-term impacts on children's physical, mental, and later lives, it's critical to protect them from abuse. The following are some strategies for protecting a child from domestic abuse.

Make Safety a Priority

One of the most effective strategies to protect a child's interests and well-being is to provide victims with the assistance they require to leave an abusive home.

This protects children from future exposure to violence and allows them to grow up in safer environments.

Teach Children Healthy Relationship Dynamics

With a skewed view of romantic dynamics, discussing healthier connections between couples with children might assist to mitigate the damage caused by witnessing domestic violence.

Children should be taught constructive strategies to settle friendship conflicts. Kids must understand healthy methods for partners to relate to each other, as well as why violence has no place in relationships.

Educating Children About Boundaries

Teaching children appropriate boundaries is an excellent method to control the damage and prevent a cycle of domestic abuse.

Teaching youngsters about autonomy (that no one has the right to touch their body or vice versa) is a positive start. Children should also be taught to always tell a trusted adult if another individual causes discomfort.

A Word From Ichhori

Domestic abuse can have long-term consequences for both direct and indirect victims. With psychological issues such as anxiety and depression likely to arise due to domestic abuse, receiving appropriate therapy from a mental health expert can help children manage these effects. Therapy can also help you deal with the emotional stress and trauma of living in a poisonous environment.

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