Children can be victims of domestic abuse. They witness what is happening in their home an they become secondary victims.

Common Reactions of Children to Domestic Violence

  1. Guilt – the child feels responsible for the violence
  2. Ashamed – the child may feel he or she is the only one living in a violent home
  3. Afraid – the child may fear for the family’s safety, divorce, or separation
  4. Need for Adult Attention – the child may use positive or negative ways to get this much needed attention
  5. Overburdened – the child may have taken over the role of caregiver or parent substitute (assuming responsibility for the daily care of younger siblings)

A child may react in opposite extremes. Generally, males externalize their feelings, while females internalize them

  1. Acting Out vs. Withdrawing – If the child is not given a turn, he will throw his book off the desk to get attention, she will sit quietly
  2. Overachieving vs. Underachieving – I’m failing in school. I keep wondering what will happen tonight when daddy comes back. I can’t keep my mind on much, I don’t care anymore
  3. Refusing to Go to School vs. Not Wanting to Leave School – The child may want to stay home from school to protect mom from further abuse; or the child may want to remain at school because they feel it is a safe place
  4. Bedwetting, Nightmares, Unable to Fall Asleep

  1. Headaches, stomachaches, asthma
  2. Tired, lethargic
  3. Sick often with cold, flu
  4. Bedwetting, thumbsucking, clinging, baby talk
  5. No reaction to physical pain: “That didn’t hurt me at all, my Daddy hits me harder and I don’t cry.”
  6. Unexplained bruises, inconsistent stories about injuries

  1. Isolated – child has no close friends or acts distant in relationships
  2. Difficulty Trusting Others
  3. Poor Conflict Resolution Skills – child may solve a fight with a fist or by becoming passive

  1. Feeling resposible for the violence
  2. Blaming others for their behavior
  3. Believing it is OK to hit anyone
  4. Having a feeling of low self-worth
  5. No one can be trusted
  6. To be a boy means it’s OK to beat up females
  7. To be a girl means you are helpless, you “need a man”