How Domestic Violence Affects Children

The range of problems among children who witness parental violence includes psychosomatic disorders, such as stuttering, anxiety, fear, sleep disruption, and school problems. Children older than five or six have a tendency to identify with the aggressor and lose respect for the victim. 75% of boys who witness parental abuse have demonstrable behavioral problems. The effects go beyond the home and don't end as a child ages. A comparison of delinquent and non-delinquent youth found that a history of family violence or abuse was the most significant difference between the two groups. Abused children are arrested by the police four times more often than non-abused children.


  • Continual fussing and crying
  • Being easily irritated
  • Being easily startled
  • Lethargy or lack of energy
  • Inability to be comforted
  • Sleep disturbances (lack of restful sleep or sleeping so much that they have to be awakened to eat)


  • Inability to be comforted
  • Difficulty going to bed
  • Frequent nightmares
  • General sadness
  • General meanness toward other children and adults
  • Slow motor responses and movements
  • Not knowing how or when to play
  • Age-inappropriate inability to separate from parents
  • Speech difficulties
  • Cursing