Effects of Domestic Violence on Children

Picture drawn by a child who stayed in the Hubbard House shelter.

Not all children have the wonderful childhood we all hope to provide for our own children. Many children live in fear and neglect, and each year, approximately 3.3 million children experience some form of domestic violence.

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. Increasingly, research has demonstrated that the negative effects of living in a violent home have grave consequences not only for the children who live with and witness abuse, but for society as a whole.  “Domestic violence is one of the root causes of virtually every major social problem that we face in the nation today,” Former US Attorney General Janet Reno said.

Witnessing violence between one’s parents or caretakers is the strongest risk factor of transmitting violent behavior from one generation to the next. Men who are exposed to domestic violence in childhood are twice as likely to abuse their own partner and children, while women experiencing abuse in childhood are more likely to become victims of domestic violence in the future.

Children who witness domestic violence may experience anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and engage in self-destructive behaviors. They are more likely to exhibit behavioral and physical health problems and show violence towards peers.  They are also more likely to attempt suicide, abuse drugs and alcohol, run away from home, and participate in promiscuous sexual activity.

Domestic violence changes lives every day in our community. Not only does it kill, it robs families of peace of mind and security and children of their childhood.  Domestic violence is a learned behavior and we must stop the cycle of abuse. Organizations such as Hubbard House offer programs to help with that process.

Hubbard House, the domestic violence center serving Duval and Baker counties, provided services to over 5,000 clients through its Emergency Shelter and Outreach Center within the last year. More than 990 of those clients served were children. Hubbard House offers a therapeutic child care center for children in residence at the shelter, as well as, an intervention program, HARK (Helping At-Risk Kids), for children in the community who have witnessed domestic violence. Individual counseling is also provided to children in shelter and through outreach. All children’s program offerings provide guidance for children in safety planning, understanding and expressing one’s emotions, and non-violent conflict resolution.

The good news is that proactive prevention and intervention, through programs like those offered at Hubbard House, can significantly improve the lives of children who have been affected by domestic violence, thereby also advancing the well-being of the larger society in which they live.

If you or someone you know is affected by domestic violence, Hubbard House can help. Please call the Hubbard House domestic violence hotline at (904) 314-3114 or toll-free at (800) 500-1119.

ABOUT HUBBARD HOUSE

Hubbard House is a nationally recognized leader in domestic violence intervention. Founded in 1976, Hubbard House is a certified, comprehensive domestic violence center providing programs and services to more than 5,000 women, children and men annually in Duval and Baker counties. While Hubbard House is most known for its emergency shelter, the agency also provides extensive adult and youth outreach services, school-based education, therapeutic child care, batterers’ intervention programs, court advocacy and volunteer and community education opportunities. Visit www.hubbardhouse.org to learn more.

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