Impact of Domestic Violence on Children’s Development

Impact of domestic violence on children’s development is a very important subject. Domestic violence significantly affects the well-being and developmental progress of children who witness the incident. Children who experience domestic violence at home often feel at fault, live in continuous dread, and are 15 times more likely to become victims of child abuse.

Impact of domestic violence on children's development

In general, kids who witness abusive behavior at home may have a plethora of physical symptoms in addition to their despairing mental and behavioral conditions. These youngsters may have generalized aches and pains, including headaches and stomach problems. Additionally, they may have irritable and inconsistent bowel movements, cold sores, and bedwetting issues. These symptoms are linkable to childhood depressive disorders, a frequent emotional consequence of domestic violence. Along with these typical symptoms of being unwell, children who experience domestic violence may seem anxious and have poor attention spans, as previously stated. These youngsters exhibit many of the same characteristics as children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

On the other hand, these youngsters may exhibit signs of weariness and chronic tiredness. They may doze off at school as a result of a lack of sleep at home. A large portion of their night may be spent listening to or witnessing domestic violence. Domestic violence victims’ children are often sick and may have poor personal hygiene. Children exposed to abusive behavior at home are likewise bound to lock in high-risk play, self-abuse, and suicide.

Domestic violence’s physical consequences on children may begin when they are still a fetus in their mother’s womb. This can result in low baby birth weights, preterm delivery, severe bleeding, and fetal mortality due to the mother’s physical trauma and mental stress. Increased mother stress during abusive periods, particularly with smoking and drug use, may also result in preterm births and low birth weight infants. When a pregnant mother is anxious, the baby may be born with tension and anxiety and may sometimes have development difficulties.

Infants present in a household where domestic violence happens often get “caught in the crossfire.” They may get bodily damage as a result of unintended trauma caused by their parent’s maltreatment. Infants may be inconsolable and irritable, exhibit a lack of responsiveness due to their loss of emotional and physical connection to their mother, exhibit developmental delays, and have excessive diarrhea as a result of trauma and stress. Infants are the most vulnerable to maltreatment since their brains have not completely matured.

Physical consequences of seeing domestic violence are less noticeable in older children than behavioral and emotional consequences. As a result of witnessing domestic violence in the home, children’s trauma significantly impacts their development and physical well-being. Sometimes, older children may channel their worry into behavioral issues. Occasionally, youngsters who witness abuse resort to drugs in an attempt to alleviate their suffering. However, the children will show physical symptoms linked with their behavioral or emotional issues, such as withdrawing from others, becoming non-verbal, and exhibiting regressive behaviors such as clinginess and whining. In children who experience domestic violence in the home, anxiety often coexists with a physical manifestation. If their worry escalates to physical symptoms, they may exhibit indications of exhaustion from a lack of sleep and weight and nutritional changes resulting from their bad eating habits.

Children exposed to abusive behavior at home need to be assessed for physical impacts and injuries. However, it is essential to note that changes in eating habits, sleeping patterns, or bowel movements may be complicated for a professional to assess.Children exposed to domestic violence are more likely to have behavioral issues, such as regression, out-of-control conduct, and behavior mimicking. Children may believe that violence is a normal part of romantic relationships and end up as either the victim or the abuser. Bedwetting, nightmares, mistrust of adults, acting tough, having difficulty developing attachments to other people, and distancing oneself from close friends and family are all warning signals. Another possible behavioral reaction to domestic violence is for the kid to lie to avoid conflict and unwarranted attention. Youngsters exposed to violence behaved aggressively, while children exposed to a non-aggressive setting acted very amiably. As a consequence, children may be highly affected by their surroundings. Academic failure, school dropout, and drug addiction are all risks for adolescents.

Their conduct with family members is often guarded and secretive, and they may feel ashamed about their home circumstances. Adolescents, on the whole, dislike having friends around and prefer to spend their leisure time away from home. Their primary problem-solving mechanisms are denial and violence. Teens deal with domestic violence in one of three ways: by blaming others, experiencing violence in a relationship, or fleeing home.

impact of domestic violence on children's development

Physical symptoms are a significant impact of parental domestic violence on children. In one research, 52% of 59 children shouted from another room, 53% of 60 children yelled from the same room, a few asked for assistance, and others got substantially engaged themselves during the abusive event. When a violent scenario reaches its zenith and a kid attempts to interfere, one would assume that parents would exercise self-control to protect their child, yet statistics indicate otherwise. According to statistics, about 50% of abusers also abuse their children. Another disturbing fact is that 25% of victims of abusive relationships engage in aggressive behavior against their children. The violence meted out to young children may be life-threatening in certain instances. If a woman is pregnant when assaulted, the unborn child faces permanent disabilities or perhaps death. Researchers discovered that women who experienced domestic violence had a more than doubled risk of infant death after analyzing the prenatal and neonatal data.

Children exposed to domestic violence often have mixed emotions towards their parents. For example, mistrust and love often coexist in the mind of the abuser. The kid develops an unhealthy obsession with the sufferer and feels pity for them. They often develop anxiety, fearful of being harmed or abandoned, of the child’s abuser being harmed, or of being blamed for the violence happening in their families. Children exposed to domestic violence often suffer grief, humiliation, and poor self-esteem.

Children who suffer from domestic violence during young age often struggle to connect and develop stable bonds, frequently manifesting as heightened startle responses and a diminished feeling of exploration and play.


Children may exhibit a variety of emotions in response to seeing domestic violence in their households. The preschool and kindergarten kids may not comprehend the maltreatment and may think they have done something wrong; this self-blame may result in guilt, concern, and anxiety for the child. Because younger children cannot verbally communicate their emotions, these emotions may manifest as behavioral issues. They may retreat, become non-verbal, and revert to childhood habits such as clinging and whining. Other typical characteristics of a kid who has been a victim of domestic violence include trouble eating and sleeping and attention difficulties.

Preschoolers exposed to violence internalize gender roles linked with trauma, such as seeing men as offenders and females as victims. This symptom manifests as the preschooler mimicking taught intimidation and abusive actions. When separated from the primary caregiver, the preschooler may display violent behavior, lashing out, protective conduct, or severe anxiety.


#Early intervention is one of the most effective strategies for minimizing the consequences of witnessing abuse. Several strategies for assisting children who have seen domestic violence include the following:

#Arranging for school-aged children to get therapy from school-based experts, most often school counselors.

#Experimenting with various counseling techniques, including play therapy, peer support groups, anger management courses, and safety programs that teach children how to escape hazardous circumstances.

#Introducing the kid to a caring and supportive adult who may be a close relative or a community champion. According to the Family Violence Defense Fund, the single most critical factor in assisting children in healing and developing resilience is the presence of a caring adult.

#Providing a safe environment free of all forms of violence for children who have seen domestic violence.

#Developing alternative methods of punishment that do not use physical contact, name-calling, screaming, or any other kind of verbally confrontational conduct.

#Assisting youngsters in developing a feeling of security via planned routines such as regular meal times and homework times.