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Effects of Abuse on Minors

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Effects of Children Observing Domestic Violence

Children who witness domestic violence are often afraid that their abused parent, siblings, or they themselves, will be seriously hurt or killed as a result of the domestic violence. Additionally, the child may also be afraid to tell anyone what is happening in their home, and may feel afraid that if they acknowledge the abuse, the abusive parent won’t love them anymore. 

Emotions of Child Observers


  • Anger 

  • Confusion

  • Guilt

  • Helplessness 

These emotions manifest in many ways and can have a long-term impact on the child and those around them. 

hurt kid, child aggression, domestic violence, coercion, threatened children

Effects of Domestic Violence
on Toddlers/Preschool Children

  • More aggressive or more withdrawn than other children

  • Impaired cognitive abilities

  • Delays in verbal development

  • Poor motor abilities

  • General fearfulness, anxiety

  • Stomachaches and bowel/bladder control problems

  • Nightmares

  • Lack of confidence to begin new tasks

  • May have the belief that abuse is their fault

Effects of Domestic Violence
on School Age Children

  • Poor grades, or in special classes

  • Failure of one or more grade levels

  • Poor social skills

  • Low self-esteem

  • General aggressiveness

  • Bullying or violent outburst of anger

  • Withdrawn and dependent

  • Bedwetting

  • Nightmares

  • Ulcers, digestive problems

  • Headaches (Not related to eyestrain or sinuses)

  • Susceptible to rationalizations of the abuser if they don’t see consequences for abuser and may believe abuse is OK and effective

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Effects of Domestic Violence
on Teenagers

  •  Poor grades, failure in school, quitting school

  • Low self-esteem

  • Refuses to bring friends home, may be withdrawn, or have few friends

  • Stays away from home or feels responsible for home and mother

  • Runaway

  • Violent outburst of anger, destroying property

  • Headaches, ulcers, acne, bedwetting, digestive problems

  • Unable to communicate feelings

  • Poor judgment, irresponsible decision-making, immaturity

  • Nightmares

  • Abuse of self through cutting, substance abuse, or eating disorders

  • Using violence against the battering adult

  • Joining in on beatings of mother

  • Using violence against a girlfriend, boyfriend, sibling, or pet

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