Many people fail to understand the deep emotional harm children can suffer when they are exposed to domestic and family violence.

Children do not have to witness domestic or family violence to be affected by it; they may be victims of psychological trauma by living in a climate of fear and intimidation as a result of the acts of domestic and family violence being perpetrated.

In homes where domestic/family violence occurs children are also at high risk of suffering physical, sexual and emotional abuse and whether or not they are physically abused, children who witness domestic/family violence suffer significant emotional and psychological trauma.

Common effects and reactions of domestic/family violence on Infants:

  • Low weight
  • Excessive screaming
  • Attachment to mother may be disrupted leading to emotional deprivation
  • Permanently altered development of the infants central nervous system resulting in on-going levels of anxiety, hyperactivity and mood disorders

Common effects and reactions of domestic/family violence on Toddlers:

  • Frequent illness
  • Low self-esteem and shyness
  • Social problems such as hitting and bitting
  • Withdrawn, passive, clinging and anxious
  • Aggressive behaviourís

Common effects and reactions of domestic/family violence on school aged children:

  • Isolation
  • Feeling responsible for the abuse
  • Helplessness
  • Guilt for not stopping the abuse
  • Psycho somatic resulting in medical problems
  • Grief
  • Ambivalence
  • Fear of abandonment
  • Embarrassment
  • Pessimism about the future
  • Eating and sleeping disorders
  • Depression
  • Detachment
  • Fantasies about a normal home life

Common effects and reactions of domestic/family violence on Adolescents:

  • Poor grades at school and dropping out of school
  • Low self-esteem and confidence
  • Isolation
  • Violent outbursts
  • Substance abuse and other excessive risk taking behaviourís
  • Inability to communicate feelings
  • Eating and sleeping disorders
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Self-harm
  • Aggression
  • Modelling the perpetrators behaviour

Domestic/Family violence is a form of child abuse and our children need to be protected from this violence. Often children become caretakers of the family and take on responsibilities far beyond their years.

Tags: Domestic Violence Newcastle, relationships, crisis, homeless, victims, community, Domestic Violence Resource Centre, Jenny's Place Women and Childern Refuge