Profoundly. A survey done by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2009 found that over 60 percent of the children surveyed were exposed to violence directly or indirectly within a year long period, and about half  had been assaulted (Office of Justice Programs, 2009).

Millions of children and adolescents are exposed to violence at home, in schools, or in their communities each year. They experience it as victims, witnesses, or indirectly through the death or injury of friends and family.

Although studies conclude that some children suffer no negative effects from exposure to domestic violence, all too often children suffer lasting physical, mental and emotional harm (OJJPD, 2009).

Children demonstrate a broad range of responses to the exposure to violence– but every child that is exposed to domestic violence is at serious risk for traumatic symptoms.

Possible effects of  witnessing abuse include:

Long term affects?  

Childhood is extremely important to a child’s mental and emotional development, and each of these responses to witnessing domestic violence has the potential to cause long term challenges for a child.

Growing up with domestic violence puts children at risk of repeating their experience in their adult life. Either as victims or abusers, violence becomes an accepted part of their adult life, just as it was a part of their childhood.

Studies find that children exposed to violence are likely to suffer dating violence, delinquency, further victimization, and a hindered ability to choose intimate partners unlike those they see at home;  continuing the cycle of violence through several generations (OJJDP, 2009).

© 2014 Stearns County Domestic Violence Partnership

There is a correlation between exposure to domestic violence and abuse directed at children. Parents that are violent towards each other have a higher risk of repeating that violent behavior toward their children. In fact, the single most common precursor to child deaths in the United States is domestic violence (National Center for Children Exposed to Violence).

Witnessing domestic violence puts children at risk for drastic mental and emotional symptoms. Direct physical, mental, and emotional abuse affects children even more profoundly.

Physical/ Emotional signs of abuse in children:

How are children affected by domestic violence?

How does witnessing abuse affect children?

Is there a connection between domestic violence, and violence directed at children?