Effects on Children

Childrens-Domestic-Abuse-WheelChildren who witness abuse or live in a violent household, experience the same fear, intimidation and threat to safety that adults experience. Living with violence can have as much of an impact on children as being victims themselves. Children are affected if they:

  • Witness the violence, hear it in another room or witness others’ fear;
  • Have to tippy-toe around an abuser to try to prevent outbursts;
  • Have to comfort, clean up or take additional responsibilities for siblings or carers following violence;
  • Are encouraged to join in with verbal abuse or contempt for their mother or carer;
  • Cannot be cared for properly as the abuse is either directly preventing it or is causing poor mental health and exhaustion for the carer;
  • Experience disrupted attachment with their mother or primary carer as infants or the normal co-regulation of emotions between a mother and infant is disrupted;
  • Have an acquired brain injury from physical abuse;
  • Are forced to have on-going contact with someone of whom they are scared or whose presence is a ‘trauma trigger’, following previous incidents where the children have been traumatised.


The impacts of domestic and family violence on children are complex. When children experience domestic and family violence, it can affect their behaviour, development, relationships, emotions, learning ability, cognition, and physical health. These impacts can last into adulthood.

Further information on the effects of domestic and family violence on children is available from the links on our Contacts page.