What About the Children?
Imagine growing up in a home with fear and uncertainty, with many hours spent anxiously wondering when the abuse will start again.
In close to half the homes where the mother is abused, the abuser hurts the children, too. And even when abuse is not directed at them, they are often afraid about just what’s going to happen next. They may have heard the abuser threaten to kill their mother, or say “I’m going to take the kids, and you’ll never see them again.”
There’s no question about it. Living with domestic abuse harms children in many ways.
Children who witness domestic abuse or its aftermath are 60% more likely to be diagnosed with depression. Some suffer from behavioral problems, as well as increased drug and alcohol abuse.
They may have problems like bed-wetting, head and stomach aches, sleep disturbances, and nightmares; they may use aggressive language, act out, or become withdrawn.
Those facts are disheartening, but thankfully, they don’t mean that kids who’ve lived with domestic abuse can’t have happy, violence-free futures.
How – and how deeply – children are affected depends on many things: the child’s age and gender; relationships with supportive, non-abusive adults; length of time the abuse has been going on; natural level of resiliency; and exactly what happens.
We care about you and your children. We want you all to feel safe, and not only survive your situation, but overcome it – so that your history is not your destiny.
We’re here to listen and to help. We’ll talk through some options and tell you about our children’s services and other resources.
Here are some things you can do to help the children now…
- Reinforce the fact that abuse and violence are not okay.
- Reassure the child that the abuse is not his or her fault in any way.
- Listen to the child’s fears and feelings.
- Explain that people can disagree with respect and without violence.
- Assure the child that he or she is loved.
- Seek out extra support from another adult both you and the child trust.
- Get professional help if you see signs of emotional or behavioral issues.
- Teach the child how – and when – to call 911 for help.
Watch two short videos about children and domestic abuse.
WABI-TV’s “Children of Domestic Abuse,” part 1.
WABI-TV’s “Children of Domestic Abuse,” part 2.