How Does Domestic Violence Affect Children?
Authored By: Texas RioGrande Legal Aid - Austin
Domestic violence can affect children in many ways. Young people may witness terrible acts of violence against their parents or caregivers. Some children may never see the violence, but they may feel the tension, hear the fighting, and see the injuries left behind. Young people may be physically injured themselves if they try to intervene to stop the violence. Children may be asked to call the police or to keep a family secret. No matter the details of a family's situation, children and young people bear the burden of domestic violence, too.
Children react in many different ways to violence in their homes. Individual children may respond differently even within the same family. Some children may become violent themselves, while others may withdraw. Some may "act out" at home or at school, while others constantly try to act like the perfect child.
Although domestic violence impacts children tremendously, it is only recently that domestic violence has been taken into account when determining child custody in families where domestic violence has occurred. The laws regarding child custody in families with domestic violence histories are still different from state to state. Even when a violent relationship has ended, the abuser may continue to have contact with the children. It is important to plan for the safety of the children and adults in the family at all times.