Impact on Children

Exposure to Domestic Violence and its impact on children has been associated with a variety of problems in their development including:

Emotional problems:

  • crying, anxiety and sadness;
  • repressed feelings of fear, anger, guilt and confusion (which can be directed toward either parent or other children);
  • depression, suicidal behaviour; nightmares, fears and phobias.
  • in younger children and babies eating and sleeping disorders are common.
  • develop and suffer from PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder).
  • Older siblings may take on the mothering role with their younger siblings from a very young age

Behavioural problems:

  • withdrawing into or isolating themselves, restlessness; regressive behaviour (such as baby-talk, wanting bottles or dummies, etc)
  • speech problems, difficulty in learning and communicating;
  • low self-esteem, fear of making mistakes;
  • aggression, bullying, temper tantrums, vandalism, mistreating pets;
  • becoming troublesome at home or at school, truancy, lower academic achievements;
  • clinginess, fear of being touched or close to someone, lack of trust, inability to form stable relationships;
  • eating problems, such as increased or decreased appetite
  • self-harming tendencies, e.g. hair pulling, nail biting etc.
  • potential alcohol and drug abuse in later life
  • “inappropriate bonding” with strangers

Physical problems:

  • stress-related physical symptoms e.g. bed wetting, restlessness, stomach aches;
  • constant colds, headaches, mouth ulcers, asthma, eczema
  • weight loss

What happens to children at a young age, can affect them later on in life. Children may grow up to learn that it is OK to resolve conflict with violence, or that violence is a normal part of life. This increases the risk of entering into an abusive relationship in adulthood, either as the perpetrator or victim – continuing the cycle of violence in the next generation.



PDF-icon Indermaur, David. 2001, Young Australians and Domestic Violence, Trends & Issues in Crime and Criminal justice, No. 195, Australian Institute of Criminology, Canberra.

 PDF-icon  UNICEF Behind Closed Doors: The Impact of Domestic Violence of Children, 2006.