Children and Domestic Violence

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Domestic Violence has effected and still continues to effect the lives of many individuals. Statics on domestic violence states Every 9 seconds in the US a woman is assaulted or beaten Domestic violence is not only found amongst adults but even children and teenagers are victims of domestic violence or are the abuser in an abusive violent relationship .To briefly define and understand Domestic violence, it is an abusive relationship between individuals who abuse one another, aggressively, physically and even emotionally. Although someone may not physically be getting abused, watching their parents or family members getting abused can be very traumatic to witness.

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For example, a child watching their mother getting punched in the face every night can and will do something to that child and in worse case scenarios, the witnesses can become abusers as well as a result of what they witnessed because children and people as a whole adapt too what they see. Too further support that statement other statistics prove Men who as children witnessed their parents’ domestic violence were twice as likely to abuse their own wives than sons of nonviolent parents This informs readers that Domestic violence needs to be spoken about more both privately and openly because there are too many people in dangerous sometimes even deadly situations due to domestic violence yet without many people inform or any resources to help them. This study will examine what domestic violence does not only to the individual being abused but the children as well who witness the abuse in any form or fashion.


This study will examine the effects domestic violence has on children who are witnesses of the abuse and violence. Data findings will be taken from numerous college students to see whether or not they agree that domestic violence not only effects those in the relationship but even those who are around that kind of environment and witness the abuse. In addition, this study will inform readers on the effects and causes of domestic violence in the home and what are type of effects domestic violence mainly has on children.

Literature Review

Domestic violence not only effects the individual who is being abused but it also effects those around them including children. A study done by authors Ghani and Abdul examined the lives of individuals who are or were victims of domestic violence in Malaysia and their children. The research done for this study shows that children should not be around domestic violence because it scars their mind and can potentially cause severe trauma because of what they have witnessed. The conductors of this study interviewed Twenty-five women between the ages of 19 and 65 . Based on the interview with those 25 women, the results prove that domestic violence has a traumatic negative effect on their growing children since the parent had directly and/or indirectly been abused in violent incidents and the child witnessed it (Ghani & Abdul 2018). For example, after close examination the findings of this study show that domestic violence affects paternal – child bonding dramatically. When a child sees one parent abusing another, it can cause the child to feel hurt or even blame themselves for the abuse which contributes to the emotional scars and it adds pain and hatred towards the parent who abuses the other; which then leads to bad parental relationships. In fact, during the interviews, seven out of 11 negative reactions in terms of parental relationships came from children with relational issues with their fathers (Ghani &Abdul 2018). Three mothers explained the reactions of their children to their fathers, one of them being I feel pity [for] my children, They lack their father’s love. (Ghani &Abdul 2018). I personally agree with the literature especially concerning parental relationships. I believe that the first people children look for love from is their parents and they are also the very first people a child learns from. When a child physically witnesses domestic violence amongst parents, I believe that child needs emotional healing and attention right away because that child will either follow the foot steps of the parents who abuse each other or that child will grow up angry, bitter, hurt, emotionally unstable amongst many other things which is why the home should never be a hostile and abusive household because the child can pattern that behavior in a physical or emotional way. This shows readers that domestic violence really does effect children no matter the circumstance especially when it comes to parent and children relationships.

Children who visually see domestic violence on a consistent basis go through emotional torment because of the behavior they witness by those around them. A study by author Victoria Thorton examined the emotional impact domestic violence has on young children who live in environments that produce domestic violence. For this study eight children were selected and interviewed along with their mothers. This research allowed the 8 children (ages 5-9) to express their emotional pain through projective play and drawing. The drawings the children drew indicated that they have endured emotional pain that was directly linked to the domestic violence they witnessed. In addition, the authors of the study explained that when a child has to experiences witnessing domestic violence, it disrupts and impacts the safety of that child because in a child’s mind they are not safe. As a result, it can cause children to withhold from sharing their emotions due to the fact that the people closes to them such as their family members have caused them to no long feel safe and secure (Thornton, Victoria 2014). I believe this literature shows that there needs to be more attention on the emotional effects domestic violence has a child because it can cause a child to feel as if they need to find security and safety in other places to replace the desire of wanting to feel protected and safe by their family members.

When an individual hears or is informed about domestic violence and its relationship with children, one may just assume that it is only related to children in certain age groups such as children who know when something is right or wrong . However, domestic violence can effect any age group even if the child is unborn. For example, researchers found that physical consequences of domestic violence can include a fetus and a pregnant women. As a result of a pregnant women being abused, the women and her child are put at risk and things such as prematurity, low birth weight, and perinatal death. In addition something as simple as a women holding her baby in her arms while being abused can cause the child to suffer injuries, (De Jong, Allan R, 2016 ). The author continues to say that in some cases mothers may attempt to provide protection for the infants by holding them, or may think they can use the infant as a type of shield to stop the abusers from physically assault them . Regardless of the circumstance, a child is still being harmed as a result of domestic violence.

A study done by Masoume examined how the psychological state and well being of a child can be effected due to domestic violence. The research involved two groups, one was exposed to domestic violence and the other was not. The results from those two groups made it very evident that there is a psychological effect from domestic on a child because of the symptoms that were shown from children who did witness domestic violence. For example, children exposed to domestic violence showed in this study that they are more likely to be hostile as oppose to those who were not exposed to domestic violence (Ghasemi, Masoume 2009). Also, further studies on this topic showed that the children who were exposed to domestic violence had more difficulty controlling their behaviors and physiological health because they have been traumatized by domestic violence. Although this study is about children in Iran, it shows readers that domestic violence no matter the demographics of a child can really impact and hurt children from anywhere or background.

When a child is a victim of family violence or witnesses family violence including domestic violence in a home, it can effect the mental state of that child. A study conducted by authors Marshall and Stewart was done to determine whether not the conditions in the home of a child with cause the mental state of a child will worsen when domestic violence is or has been present in a family. The study concluded that when a child has a bad interaction or witnesses bad interaction amongst those in their family or even their caregivers, it does have an effect on their mental health (Marshall & Stewart 2003).

Anxiety can also be a mental effect domestic violence and abuse has on a child. In addition, family conflicts can cause a child to develop aggressive behavior ( Akiho, Scarpa, Angela 2010). Authors Akiho & Scarpa explored the role anxiety plays in the relationship between family conflict and childhood aggression. A total of 50 children participated in the study and their ages ranged from 7 to 13 years. The results of the study concluded that there is a direct relationship between family conflict and aggression in terms of producing higher levels of child anxiety. The researchers of this study proved that if a child experiences conflict or even sees conflict around them anxiety can be a thing a child may face.

Another study relating to the mental effects of domestic violence on children was conducted by author Carrie and it included 457 youth; some of which were exposed to domestic violence and some were not. This study was done to see the effects of child abuse and domestic violence exposure in childhood on adolescent internalizing and externalizing behaviors. The fundings of that study concluded that not only does domestic violence effect a child but child abuse does as well because it increases the risk of a child internalizing and externalizing outcomes in adolescence , (Carrie 2010). The study showed that children who experience both domestic violence and child abuse together were at a greater risk of stress and mental issues opposed to the other children who were not exposed to domestic violence and abuse.

In addition, many may not consider the child to be the victim because they are not physically being abused, however that is not always the case. In most instances, a child can be worse off compared to the actually victim being physically abused because, of the emotional stress it can cause both long term and short term. For example, witnessing domestic violence not only causes stress on a child but it can also potentially hinder their brain development and can delay normal childhood milestones, (Healey, Justin 2014). Not only that but a child may not know how to relate to other children or people in general because they have so much anxiety. As a result of that behavior, these children may miss school, may run away from home, may have very aggressive amongst many other things. In fact the most dangerous part is believing that violence in a home is normal (Healey, Justin 2014). The reason that is so dangerous is because, if a child grows up believing that it is normal to be in an abusive home, that child may take that same mentality to their home in the future and now a cycle of domestic violence in the home has been created.

The experiences a child faces can cause them to project those same experiences unto other children. Data was collected that included a child’s records and those records were matched to domestic violence cases. The results indicated that children from troubled families significantly decrease the reading and math test scores of their peers and increase misbehavior in the classroom (Scott, Mark 2010). Children in most cases always influence one another whether good or bad because of the mindset they have and how they adapt to what they see quickly especially amongst their peers. This shows how an experience a child faces can cause a child to negatively effect the lives of others .

Policy Recommendation:

Domestic violence has and continues to effect the lives of many individuals including children. Many children and families continues to be victims of domestic violence which is why there needs to be a change in the approach of domestic violence so many lives can be saved and children no longer have to be victims both emotionally and physically.

In order for there to be a change in regard to domestic violence , it first has to be acknowledged and appropriately addressed. In other words , domestic violence needs to be spoken up more in schools, jobs, churches etc. When people begin to bring awareness to how severe and dangerous domestic violence is, it can make it easier for those who are victims including children to speak up. Often times what can happen is, a victim or child may not speak up because they may be scared or they may feel as if those who they inform about the abuse will not believe them.

A policy I would recommend is implementing a law that says every school, agency, job facility and even church has to have a program that trains its staff and employees to deal with domestic violence. The reason for that is, many people do not know or would not know what to do if a child or person comes to them and expresses the abuse they have been going through or have been witnessing. This mandatory program would train those in authority by showing them exactly how to handle the situation, what things to say, what things not to say and would point them to the appropriate people who can properly give them the help they need.

In addition, I would create a mentorship program for children who have been abused. With the proper consent, this program will be for children/youth who have witnessed domestic violence or are being abused and they will be assigned mentors who have experience with domestic violence. These mentors will educate children/youth on the importance of speaking up when they witness abuse or are being abused themselves. It is also education youth on how to receive help when they are in any situation involving domestic violence. Lastly it will be a program were children/youth can voice how they feel and through them voicing how they feel, they will receive the proper guidance in terms of what to do and how to do it.

Data Findings

For this research, data was collected from students on Virginia State University campus all of which are African American, and are 18 years and older. 15 people in total were asked questions pertaining to domestic violence on Virginia State University Campus. The questions consisted asked were: are children who grew up in violent homes are more likely to be violent themselves? Do you believe children who witness domestic violence in the home suffer trauma? Who do you believe are effected more, the child or the parent being abused? Are children more likely to speak up about domestic violence in their home?

Based on the findings after the short survey was collected, it showed that the majority of those who participated in the study agreed to all the questions asked. I interviewed a total of 15 people, 10 out of the 15 were females and the remaining 5 were males. The first question regarding are children who grew up in violent homes are more likely to be violent themselves? All of the participants expect for one who was male was neutral and said it all depends, the child can either become an abuser themselves for make up in their mind that they will never abuse someone ever in life


Thorton, V. (2014). Understanding the emotional impact of domestic violence on young children.

Abdul, M., & Ghani. (2018). The Impacts of Domestic Violence on Children: Perspectives from Women in Malaysia who Experience Abuse.

Tanaka, A., Raishevich, N., & Scarpa, A. (2009). Family Conflict and Childhood Aggression: The Role of Child Anxiety. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 25(11), 2127-2143. doi:10.1177/0886260509354516

Marshall, D. B., & Stewart, A. (n.d.). Child Witnessing of Family Violence. The Impact of Family Violence on Children and Adolescents, 33-45. doi:10.4135/9781452224688.n4

(n.d.). Retrieved from

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Children and Domestic Violence. (2019, Nov 28). Retrieved from