Effects of domestic abuse on children

You may have children of your own or be a stepfather to your partner’s children. Think about all of the children who might be affected by your abuse.

A lot of people think that children aren’t really aware of the domestic violence that is going on in their family. But studies show that in most cases when domestic violence takes place the children are in the same or next room. Also, studies have shown that children suffer long-term harm if they live with violence and abuse at home, even if the abuse isn’t directed at them.

Some of the ways children might be exposed to your abuse

  • Hearing or seeing the violence and abuse, being woken up or kept awake by your arguing, intervening – trying to protect their brothers / sisters / mother, getting hurt trying to intervene, or by getting caught up in the violence.
  • Seeing bruises or smashed furniture the next day, being brought into arguments – being used to ridicule or humiliate their mother, being used to divide loyalties, or to hold back or pass on information between you, being forced to take part in or to witness the violence and abuse.
  • Being isolated from grandparents or mum’s friends, experiencing direct violence, experiencing unpredictable behaviour from one or both of their parents, experiencing neglect from one or both of their parents, being told to leave the house or stay out to avoid the violence.
  • Having to see you in a contact centre. Being made subject of child protection investigations or court proceedings
    Being teased or otherwise stigmatised by other children who know about the violence. Having to call the police or get help.

Physical effects of domestic abuse on children

Being physically hurt in the ‘cross-fire’, having injuries, sleep deprivation, loss of concentration, bed-wetting, developing eating disorders, having panic attacks, stress and tension.

Emotional effects of domestic abuse on children

Fear, anger, distrust, anxiety, low self-esteem, loss of childhood, psychological problems, withdrawal, isolation, losing contact with friends and family.

Effects on behaviour of children exposed to domestic abuse

Models him/herself on your violent behaviour, becomes violent to their mum, bullies other children, expects / accepts abuse – is bullied at school, steals or breaks the law in other ways, drinks alcohol, takes drugs, gets into trouble, does poorly in school work, misses time from school.
Did you witness or overhear your mother being abused?
Or can you imagine how you would have felt?