Resource Highlight: Children of Domestic Violence

Link to the homepage for Children of Domestic Violence (CDV)
Link to the homepage for Children of Domestic Violence (CDV)

For eight months I led weekly support groups for children living in domestic violence situations. I loved spending time with those kids. Their artwork still hangs on my refrigerator.

Each child I met during that time responded to their situation differently. Some were happy and loved to give hugs. Some were begging for the attention their parents either would not or could not give. Some were very reserved. Some could not sit still. Some were constantly fighting with one another. Some exhibited all of these qualities in one day.

We did a lot of coloring, especially when it was too cold to play outside. I will never forget the night one little girl asked me if I liked her picture.

“That’s beautiful,” I told her, admiring the drawing and the colors she had chosen. “You’re very creative.”

Her immediate response caught me off guard. “You’re just saying that. You don’t really like it.”

In all my years of coloring, never once had a child retaliated against a compliment toward their artwork.

I answered, “I would not say something unless I meant it. I think you are very talented.”

Again, she denied my sincerity. This sort of conversation continued throughout the evening. She would ask me something: “Do you like my shirt?” “Do you think I’m pretty?” “Do you think I can dance good?”

I would reply: “Yes, I do.”

I did like her shirt, she was beautiful, and she had a rhythm most of us could only dream of acquiring by the age of 8. But she was so ready to receive a negative answer that my positive answers were actually bothering her.

Like so many other children living in a domestically abusive home, she had been led to believe that she was not special or important. Praise was so foreign to her that she instantly denied the sincerity of the affirmation. I saw a genuinely wonderful, creative little girl trying desperately to find value in something she could do, despite her constant expectation of rejection. She had come to believe two of the greatest lies of domestic violence; that she was worthless and unlovable.

How does a four-year-old cope emotionally when his home is a war zone?

How does an eight-year-old protect herself when her caretaker becomes violent?

Children of Domestic Violence exists to educate and encourage child and adult survivors of childhood domestic violence.

According to UNICEF, there are roughly 275 million children worldwide living in domestic violence situations.

90% of adults living with violent partners believe their children are unaware of the abuse. 90% of those children know about the violence.

The psychological trauma experienced by children in abusive homes is severe. Whether a child is the target for the violence or a witness to the violence, their development will be negatively affected. The emotional, mental, physical, sexual, cognitive, behavioral, and social ramifications of abuse are serious and may affect a child throughout their entire life.

For more information on domestic violence and its effect on children, please access the link to the Children of Domestic Violence homepage, provided above (in English, Spanish, or French), or select any of the resources below.

Effects of Abuse: Children as Secondary Victims

Ten Signs of Child Abuse and Neglect

How to Document Concerns about Child Abuse

Before and After Abuse: Providing Protection and Healing for Children

Abuse Can Be a Cycle

Psychological Trauma after Abuse

Prevention Tools: Tip Sheets for Parents

Domestic Violence Myth Busters

Eight Notes on Counseling Abused Children

Domestic Violence Emergency Check List

Stories from Survivors of Domestic Violence


3 thoughts on “Resource Highlight: Children of Domestic Violence

  1. A good friend of mine adopted 2 boys out of the foster care system in Florida 14 & 4 at the time) and the oldest had endured living in an incredibly violent family situation until the age of 10. The psychological impact from viewing your mom get beat and abused by numerous boyfriends DEFAINTELY has long term negative impacts on you. Proud that this organization realizes it’s just about physical child abuse, this abuse does not leave physical scars……

  2. Thanks so much for sharing information about our work and our website. Breaking the silence is key. Having the tools and resources to break the cycle and empower your life towards an accomplished future is the next vital step. Our website is a hub for both and has a wide array of tools and resources to help those impacted by domestic violence as children heal the hurt and change their lives. Thanks again! -Children of Domestic Violence

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