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About DV

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Each year world-wide, more than 3,000,000 children witness domestic violence in their homes, placing them at risk. Even when the abuse is directed towards their mother and not them, they can get hurt inadvertently as they jump in the middle or cling to their parent during the abuse. Infants who are exposed to abuse in the home are affected.

The longer the violence continues, the deeper and enduring the effects on the children will become. Children who are growing up around domestic violence may blame themselves and feel confused by their feelings of anger, sadness, fear, and love. They may suffer from emotional or developmental problems. They learn from what they see and may think that abuse is okay or that adults don’t take responsibility for their own actions. Sadly, boys who witness abuse are more likely to become batterers as teenagers or adults, transformed from young witnesses into potential abusers.

Children need to grow up in a loving atmosphere, where unnecessary fear, low self-esteem, and violence are strangers. WSC can help children to deal with their difficult feelings and plan for their safety.


Young children may display some of the following difficulties when they are living with domestic violence. However, young children may show these problems for many other reasons, and children displaying them may not have been exposed to domestic violence.

  • physical complaints (headaches, stomachaches)
  • separation anxiety (beyond what you would normally expect for the age of the child)
  • sleep difficulties (fear of falling asleep)
  • increased aggressive behavior and angry feelings (physically hurting self or others)
  • constant worry about possible danger
  • seeming loss of previously learned skills (toilet skills, naming colors)
  • withdrawal from others and activities
  • lack of interest in or feeling about anything
  • excessive worry about the safety of loved ones (needing to see siblings during the day, asking constantly about Mommy)
  • difficulty choosing and competing an activity or task
  • very high activity level, constant fidgeting and/or trouble concentrating at levels atypical for the child's age and stage of development.
  • Low school performance, absenteeism.

We suggest parents to seek assistance for their child from a physician or family counseling agency when his or her behavior:

  • is physically harmful to the child or others (e.g., cutting own clothes with scissors, laying down on street, etc.);
  • is intense enough to interfere with the child's day-to-day adjustment in the program/school;
  • does not respond to basic child guidance strategies;
  • persist over time (3 to 6 weeks).