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The Facts on Children and Domestic Violence

Women who are battered often go to extreme and courageous lengths to protect their children from an abusive partner. In fact, research has shown that the non-abusing parent is often the strongest protective factor in the lives of children who are exposed to domestic violence. However, growing up in a violent home may be a terrifying and traumatic experience that can affect every aspect of a child’s life, growth, and development. In spite of this, we know that when properly identified and addressed, the effects of domestic violence on children can be mitigated.


  • • The U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse suggests that domestic violence may be the single major precursor to child abuse and neglect fatalities in this country.
    • Studies suggest that between 3.3 and 10 million children are exposed to domestic violence annually.
    • In a national survey of more than 6,000 American families, 50 percent of the men who frequently assaulted their wives also frequently abused their children.
    • Slightly more than half of female victims of intimate violence live in households with children under age 12.
    • Men who as children were exposed to their parents' domestic violence are twice as likely to abuse their own wives than sons of nonviolent parents.
    • One study of 2,245 children and teenagers found that recent exposure to violence in the home was a significant factor in predicting a child’s violent behavior.
    • Children who are exposed to domestic violence are more likely to exhibit behavioral and physical health problems including depression, anxiety, and violence towards peers. They are also more likely to attempt suicide, abuse drugs and alcohol, run away from home, engage in teenage prostitution, and commit sexual assault crimes.
    • A recent study of low-income pre-school children in Michigan found that nearly half (46.7 percent) of the children in the study had been exposed to at least one incident of mild or severe violence in the family. Children who had been exposed to violence suffered symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, such as bed-wetting or nightmares, and were at greater risk than their peers of having allergies, asthma, gastrointestinal problems, headaches and flu.

Pregnancy and Domestic Violence

  • • Each year about 324,000 pregnant women in the U.S. are battered by the men in their lives.
    • Complications of pregnancy, including low weight gain, anemia, infections, and first and second trimester bleeding are significantly higher for abused women, as are maternal rates of depression, suicide attempts, tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drug use.


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