Family & Juvenile Law Section “Top 10’s”

Top 10 Tips on The Effects of Witnessing Domestic Violence On Children
Submitted by Judith A. Wolfer, Esquire
Managing Attorney, House of Ruth

  1. Children witness domestic violence at much higher levels than we think.  Studies have shown that parents significantly underestimate the domestic violence that is seen or heard by their children.
  2. Child witnesses of domestic violence experience significant physical and emotional consequences, such as depression, PTSD, anxiety, aggressive behaviors, sleep disturbances, acting out, somatic illnesses, inability to think clearly, and inability to study and learn.
  3. Child witnesses of domestic violence are hospitalized more often than other children for illnesses, such as intestinal disorders, asthma, and immunological disorders.
  4. Long-term exposure to PTSD can cause organic physical changes in children’s brains.
  5. Children in domestically violent homes are abused more often by their parents.
  6. Boys who witness domestic violence are more likely to use control and violence as adults.
  7. Girls who witness domestic violence are more likely to tolerate violence as adults.
  8. Once a child has witnessed domestic violence, that child is best able to recover his or her equilibrium if they are kept away from any more domestic violence.      
  9. Children bounce back best from the trauma of witnessing domestic violence if they are able to stay in their own home, maintain their connections with friends and extended    family members, and participate in child-focused counseling.   
  10. A domestically violent parent is a poor parent – they tend to be more narcissistic than other parents, unable to perceive and pay attention to the different needs and desires of   their children.  These parents need to work on their parenting skills in addition to their problem with domestic violence.