When one parent is physically and/or emotionally abusive, all children are seriously affected. Witnessing violence in the home can cause extreme trauma for children. Children who have witnessed violence may need help from an experienced children’s mental health professional to recover and heal.
Seeing or hearing domestic violence may lead to emotional difficulties such as feelings of shame, embarrassment, guilt, depression, insecurity and withdrawal. Many children who live with family violence may experience sleep problems, eating problems, delayed toileting, school problems, problems making and keeping friends, substance abuse and other kinds of self abuse.
Teens who witness violence in their families may then begin to experience violence with peers and in dating relationships. Girls may begin to believe that violence is a normal part of relationships and boys may think that the way to solve problems is through the use of force or violence. In addition, teens who witness domestic violence are more likely to fight with friends, rebel against authority, develop substance abuse problems, develop low self-esteem, have difficulties in school and be much more likely to attempt suicide.
The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study is one of the largest investigations ever conducted to assess associations between childhood maltreatment and later-life health and well-being. To learn more, please visit cdc.gov/ace.
Family members have the right to be safe in their home, and no one deserves to be abused. If you are being abused and need support, please call 800-260-9293. You will be connected to the South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault and can speak with an advocate who can, among many other services, work to develop a safety plan for yourself and your children.