Children: The Often Forgotten Victims of Domestic Violence

According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, some 10 million children in the United States are witnesses to domestic violence between their parents or guardians each year. Parents often believe that children are not affected by domestic violence occurring within the home, but that assumption could not be more false. Even if a child does not witness the abuse in person, simply living in an abusive environment can be harmful. In fact, domestic violence within a home can affect children in many negative ways. Children living around abuse are more likely to be abused themselves, become abusers later in life, and may suffer from many other emotional and behavioral problems.

Effects on Young Children

We know that domestic abuse has many negative effects on the victim, but how does domestic violence affect children? Unfortunately, domestic violence has many harmful effects on children, but parents may not know how to identify these effects, meaning many children do not get the help they need. In young children, being around domestic abuse can lead to depression, anxiety, and post traumatic stress disorder, and these problems can affect them well into adulthood. They may become fearful, angry, or aggressive. Young children may show a loss of interest in their friendships, their school, and other activities they previously enjoyed. Eating habits can change, and children around abuse may start spending more time alone. Children exposed to domestic abuse may also become bullies themselves, and may become abusers later in life.

Effects on Adolescents

Adolescents may show other negative symptoms due to abuse. They may develop rebellious behavior and may become more argumentative with their parents or guardians. They may skip or lose interest in school, and may show no interest in former friends or extra curricular activities. Parents may notice a drop in grades. Additionally, older children exposed to domestic violence are likely to turn to drugs or alcohol.

The AACAP also reports that children who live in homes with domestic violence are 1500% more likely to be victims themselves of abuse or neglect compared to the general population. In some cases, the abuser may turn to abusing the children of the house. In other instances, children may be injured unintentionally just by being near the abuse.

An Order of Protection Can Help

While making the choice to seek help can be difficult for domestic violence victims, especially when the abuser has used intimidation or threats, victims are urged to consider both themselves and their children. In Illinois, an order of protection is a legal step to quickly get both domestic violence victims and their children out of harm’s way. If you are the victim of domestic violence, you need the help of a qualified DuPage county family law attorney. Choose safety for you and your children, and call 630-904-3033 to speak to a qualified attorney with Abear Law Offices today. Seeking legal help is not always easy, but our attorneys are here to help get you out of harm’s way as quickly as possible. Do not suffer in silence. Contact us today to learn more about our immediate and long term solutions to protect you and your children from further harm.