Child Abuse and Domestic Violence

Ann Emmerling, Blackburn Center

Domestic violence affects the children who live in homes where it is present. Studies show that 32-53% of families where domestic violence is present also have child abuse occurring in the family[1] and the perpetrator of child abuse in the home is also the perpetrator of domestic violence in that same home. According to national data, 75% of the men who abuse their female partner also abuse their children.[2]

Domestic violence is the systematic physical, sexual and psychological control of one partner in an intimate relationship by the other partner. The control can take many forms, from physical force to emotional intimidation to control of the family finances. Children who witness domestic violence can experience a range of negative consequences including regressive behaviors like bedwetting, clinging to a security object like a special toy or favorite blanket, poor academic performance, attention-seeking behaviors, difficulty in trusting others, and frequent stress-related ailments like headaches, stomach aches and asthma attacks. A study of divorced women who left their marriages due to violence reports that one of two major reasons they left was that the women believed that seeing the violence was harming their children.[3]

Blackburn Center offers free, confidential supportive counseling services and shelter to survivors of domestic violence to help them understand the effects of domestic violence and learn how they can make positive changes in their lives and free therapy for sexual assault survivors.

[1] Minnesota Center Against Violence and Abuse, Mothers and Children: Understanding the Links between Woman Battering and Child Abuse, Jeffrey L. Edleson, 1995
[2] Family Violence Department of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges Resource Center on Domestic Violence. Children of Domestic Violence (No data available)
[3] Kurz, D. (1996) Separation, divorce and women abuse. Violence Against Women, 2.