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How Domestic Violence Affects Children

Some of the impacts of exposure to domestic violence among children are as follows:


  • Confusion about conflicting feelings toward parents
  • Fear of abandonment, or expressing emotions, the unknown or personal injury
  • Terror over the constant threat of danger, both for the parent who is meant to keep them safe and also for themselves
  • Anger
  • Depression and feelings of helplessness and powerlessness
  • Embarrassment and shame


  • Acting out or withdrawing
  • Aggressive or passive behavior
  • Refusing to go to school
  • Care taking; acting as a parent substitute
  • Bed-wetting and nightmares
  • Dissociation/withdrawal


  • Isolation from friends and relatives
  • Poor anger management and problem solving skills
  • Excessive social involvement to avoid home
  • Identification with the aggressor: the use of verbal and physical threat to control relationships
  • Difficulty in trusting, especially adults
  • Engaged in exploitative relationships as perpetrator or victim


  • Somatic complaints, headaches and stomachaches
  • Nervous, anxious, short attention span
  • Frequently ill
  • Regression in development (i.e. having potty accidents after having been potty trained)
  • Tired and lethargic



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