Children, Youth and Domestic Violence
Children are often considered the “hidden” victims in families where domestic
violence is occurring. Studies have estimated that 3.3 million to 10 million
children are witnesses to domestic violence annually. Children, just like their
adult caregivers, experience trauma from the physical and verbal abuse
transpiring in the home. Furthermore, 30% to 60% of perpetrators of domestic
violence also abuse children in the household. Children can demonstrate a
variety of problems, due to exposure to domestic violence, inhibiting their
personal success in the classroom and other social settings.
Impact of Exposure to Domestic
Newborn to 5
- Sleep and/or eating disruptions
- Withdrawal/lack of responsiveness
- Intense/pronounced separation anxiety
- Inconsolable crying
- Developmental regression, loss of acquired skills
- Intense anxiety, worries, and/or new fears
- Increased aggression and/or impulsive behavior
6 to 11
- Nightmares, sleep disruptions
- Aggression and difficulty with peer relationships in
- Difficulty with concentration and task completion in
- Withdrawal and/or emotional numbing
- School avoidance and/or truancy
12 to 18
- Antisocial behavior
- School failure
and/or reckless behavior, e.g.,
- School truancy
- Substance abuse
- Running away
- Involvement in violent or abusive dating
from National Child Traumatic Stress Network.
There are a number of evidenced based programs like “The
Incredible Years” and therapeutic modalities such as Trauma-Focused Cognitive
Behavioral Therapy and Parent Child Interaction Therapy that have been shown to
be effective in addressing the needs of children exposed to domestic violence.
The major emphases of these programs are increasing a child’s sense of physical
and emotional safety, developing self-esteem and stronger social skills,
developing respect for others, and fostering a sense of control of one’s life.
For more information about childhood exposure to domestic violence, treatment
and prevention, please review the links below.
The National Child Traumatic
Stress Network (NCTSN)
Provides conceptual content, symptoms and evidenced-based
interventions to support children affected by exposure to domestic violence.
NCTSN is a resource base offering technical assistance and information to
professionals and communities seeking to address needs of children and families
in the context of trauma including domestic violence, natural disaster,
traumatic grief, etc.
Prevent Child Abuse North
statewide agency invested in evidenced-based programming that reduces risks for
child maltreatment and supports the strengthening of families through
implementation support to communities around North Carolina.
Center for Child and Family Health (CCFH)
A Durham, North Carolina-based interagency collaborative of specialists
providing preventative, diagnostic and treatment services to children and
families facing social, emotional and behavioral difficulties.
North Carolina Child
Treatment ProNorth Carolina ChildTreatment Programgram
A program tailored to build capacity to serve traumatized children and families
by training clinicians to provide evidence-based therapeutic interventions to
children and families and sustain roster of county -specific trained clinicians
available to treat children affected by sexual abuse and trauma in North
Welfare Information Gateway - click
here for additional link
A federal clearinghouse of research materials, prevention and practices
relevant to strengthening families, child welfare, and intersecting issues such
as domestic violence and mental health. Website is maintained under the auspice
of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services- Administration for Children
Honor Our Voice
An interactive learning module to increase community awareness of the impact of
domestic violence from a child’s perspective at various ages.