Silent Victims: The Impact of Domestic Violence on Children
Domestic violence comes in many forms including physical assault, emotional/psychological abuse, intimidation, sexual abuse, and the systematic power of control perpetrated by one intimate partner to another. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, “1 in 15 children is exposed to intimate partner violence each year…[and] 90% of these children are eyewitnesses to this violence”. Locally, HCWC provided services and shelter to 227 children that were living in homes with domestic violence.
Some of the adverse effects on children are well known and can have dire consequences. The age of the child and severity of what the child has not only witnessed, but the direct abuse they may have experienced themselves, shape each of these children with either short or long term. Some common effects on children are thoughts of suicide, drug use, increased likelihood of child committing similar acts, risk of long term physical and mental health problems, bed wetting, low self-esteem, self-blaming, and skipping school/lower grades. Other side effects include being withdrawn, depression, and anxiety. The impact on children is often the catalyst that leads the parent to seek help and safety for themselves and their children.
The consequences are unique to each child and situation, and it is vital that community members are encouraged to speak up against domestic violence to help create an environment where victims feel safe and supported. The children growing up in violent homes did not choose the environment, they have little to no control over their living conditions. They are often silent victims, feeling helpless after witnessing the abuse of their parent.
Hays Caldwell Women’s Center provides free individual counseling services to both adults and children to help cope and potentially prevent long term effects. If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, contact the Hays Caldwell Women’s Center to learn more about our services.
Valerie is a legal advocate for HCWC who assist clients in protective orders, divorces, and custody cases. I am a graduate from Texas State University where I earned my Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice with a minor in sociology and am currently working on my paralegal certification from UTSA. I also have three years’ experience in the criminal justice system, where I served as a probation officer for Hays County. I am passionate about helping others and making a change in our system!