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How does witnessing domestic violence impact children?

Growing up in a home with domestic violence can be detrimental to children. It impacts them in various ways that will affect them throughout their lives.

According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office on Women’s Health, the most common impact of growing up with domestic violence is that children will usually become victims themselves later in life. Some children will become perpetrators of violence as a result.

Mental and physical impacts

The environment that domestic violence creates can make a child anxious and fearful. It can teach a child that this type of treatment is allowable. It can make them jumpy or quick to act in a violent way when frightened. For some kids, it can lead to regression in certain areas, such as having bathroom accidents or using a pacifier. Children may have trouble sleeping or experience nightmares.

The effects of the living situation can manifest in many ways. It could lead a child to become a bully or make them emotionally fragile where they cry at almost anything. It can cause stuttering or lead to feelings of guilt.  A child may start getting sick more often

Long-term impacts

For older children, the situation can lead to them acting out in ways that could impact their future. They may stop going to school or stop trying to get good grades. They could begin using drugs or alcohol and have unprotected sex. Kids could develop a life-long habit, get a sexually transmitted disease or end up with a pregnancy as a result of their reckless behaviors.

Just because the child is not suffering directly from the abuse, seeing a parent undergo the violence is enough to completely alter their lives.