Domestic Violence and the Effects on Children

As CASA Volunteers, it is important that you are aware of the risks children may face when exposed to Domestic Violence (DV).  Also, in the United States, exposure to DV is included in our definition of child maltreatment.

It is proven that risks to adult partners also pose risks to children.

It is estimated that 1.5 million  women experience DV each year in the United States. Research further shows that 35% of U.S. households experiencing DV had children in their household. These children, an estimated 3,300 each year, who are exposed to this type of violence, may have more behavioral problems, social problems, emotional issues, and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder compared to children not exposed to DV. Some children may be at an increased risk to use violence in their own romantic and peer relationships as teens and young adults.

Now that you know a little bit about the prevalence of domestic violence in our country, I’m here to discuss with you various risk factors and warning signs – often overlooked – that you can look for when working with your children.

Risk factors include:

  • History of DV
  • Pending separation
  • obsessive-possessiveness on the part of the perpetrator
  • Prior police involvement
  • Perpetrator having a criminal history
  • Substance abuse issues
  • Child custody and access disputes
  • Perpetrator mental illness
  • Step-children in the home
  • Prior threats to kill
  • The victim’s intuitive sens of fear

Warning signs include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Grief
  • Post-traumatic stress
  • Suicidal ideations
  • Significant weight and appetite changes
  • General rebellion
  • Illegal activity
  • Conflict with peers
  • General destructive and impulsive behaviors

And…even more…it is hard for these children to develop secure attachments and form new relationships. They need support to help them cope. I hope this helps you to have a better understanding of behaviors exhibited by children exposed to this kind of violence. If you suspect one of your children have become a victim, do not hesitate to speak up! It’s your voice that really matters.

#advocate #volunteer #onevoiceonechild

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