This article is going to give a partial answer to three common questions I get about about children and domestic violence.
How do children get exposed to domestic violence? What are the immediate effects? What can I do to help a child who has been through it?
First-how children are exposed to domestic violence. When domestic violence is happening in a household children experience it in a variety of ways. You can break it down into three categories:
While some types of exposure may be more traumatic than others it is important to understand that all of these are extremely damaging and have the potential to cause lifelong challenges. In another post I am going to discuss the neurological implications of experiencing DV. For now let’s move on to some observable symptoms that often accompany exposure. It’s important to note that a some of these symptoms in isolation and moderation can be present in normal healthy childhood.
I’ll try to break these into categories as well for ease of reference.
In future articles, we will explore how these symptoms follow children into their adult lives and the types of challenges that they develop in to.
For now, let me offer a few simple suggestions to those who may be trying to figure out how to help a child who has been exposed to DV.
Empathy, honesty, and respect go a long way with anyone who has experienced trauma and children are no different. You can make a difference and there are lots of reasons to be hopeful for healing. Some of the most resilient, courageous people I have ever met overcame abusive childhoods. When I speak to churches, nonprofits, and business teams about DV, power, and resilience, I carry with me a humbling appreciation for the many survivors who have taught me through their own grit and courage that it is possible to overcome.