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The Lifelong Impacts of Childhood Exposure to Domestic Violence

Children who are exposed to domestic violence can be negatively impacted by it throughout their entire lives, even if they are never physically abused themselves. It’s estimated that 3 to 4 million American children and teens are at risk of witnessing domestic violence.

Many children who are exposed to physical, sexual or emotional abuse of a parent or loved one are too afraid to say anything, even to a trusted teacher or friend. However, the impact on them can exhibit itself in a number of ways. Some children become violent and angry themselves, bullying other kids. Others become withdrawn and depressed. They generally feel some sense of guilt themselves.

Behavioral problems can continue and escalate into the teen years. Many teens turn to alcohol and drugs to deal with the trauma. They may harm themselves or even commit suicide. Teens who have witnessed a parent being abused sometimes have problems forming healthy relationships of their own.

As they move into adulthood, they too often emulate the behavior they witnessed. Women are 50 percent more likely to become domestic violence victims. Men are more likely to become abusers and to have a significant number of sexual partners. Adults who grew up around domestic violence also are more likely to experience both physical and mental health problems.

Anyone who is being abused needs to take action not just to protect themselves from their abuser, but to protect their children. This is essential even if the kids are not being physically harmed. Witnessing domestic violence is itself a type of abuse. A Nevada attorney can work to get a restraining order and take other steps to keep the abuser away.

Source: Our Family Wizard, “The Impact Of Domestic Violence On Children,” accessed April 27, 2017

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