Women's Domestic Violence & Homeless Services


Children and Domestic Violence

This information can help us to protect and help children to heal from the effects of domestic violence. It is not meant to create any feelings of guilt (total responsibility lies with the perpetrator of violence) but is a fact which helps to promote awareness around how children are affected by domestic violence.

There has been numerous studies completed on the experiences and effects domestic violence has on children. Evidence clearly shows that living in a family where a parent is being abused has significant traumatic effects on children.

Many children witness the abuse and, even if they do not, they are aware that it is occurring. They are alert to the tension, fear and distress it has on their mother. Instead of their home being a place of safety, they live in fear, worry and concern for their own safety, and the well-being of their mother and any siblings.

Individual children will respond in different ways depending on their age, development, personality, circumstance, personal experiences and relationship with the perpetrator and/or their mother/step-mother. They are often on scared, not knowing what to expect at any time, what mood the perpetrator will be in and what they will be allowed and not allowed to do or say.

Many children do not verbalise their fears. Some do not have the words to explain, others are too frightened, some may think that if they say something the violence will escalate or mum may be hurt again. The longer the violence goes on, the more difficult it is to undo the damaging effects it has on a child, their mental, emotional, physical and development health. 

Children who live with domestic violence have the anguish of witnessing the abuse of their mother and experience the strain of concerns about her future welfare and maybe even scared that she will be killed, and be in genuine danger themselves.