October is National Domestic Violence Month and for the past eleven years, Home Start has hosted our Hallo-Wine Fall Festival to raise funds for our mission of strengthening families in order to protect children. More than 15 million children in the United States live in homes in which domestic violence has happened at least once. Witnessing this type of emotional or physical abuse can have devastating effects on children.
How does domestic violence affect children?
- Often when there is physical abuse in a home, children also become targets. Abusive relationships in households with children result in them being physically abused between 30% and 60% of the time.*
- Children who witness abuse of a parent may become fearful and suffer from anxiety, emotional distancing, and sleep disorders. One study finds that “witnessing DV is an experience in and of itself sufficiently intense to precipitate PTSD in children.” **
- Children can blame themselves and carry this burden throughout their lives. “The attention given, emotions felt, and memories imprinted onto a child’s brain in moments of stress become inextricably linked together and forever taint—or else filter—feelings, beliefs, and choices in relationships and so many other facets of life.” – Psychology Today
- Children who witness abuse are likely to act out in negative ways, channeling their aggression toward themselves or others. Boys may become more physically aggressive while girls tend to become withdrawn and suffer symptoms of depression.***
- Children who witness abuse between parents may also be at greater risk to becoming violent or being abused in their own future relationships. a boy who sees his mother being abused is 10 times more likely to abuse his female partner as an adult.****
How can you help prevent domestic violence and protect children?
- Call the police if you see or hear evidence of domestic violence. Don’t worry about whether the couple or person will be angry with you for calling, you can remain anonymous if you’re concerned about your own safety.
- Support a friend or family member who may be in an abusive relationship. You can also refer them to the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233) or visit org for additional resources.
- Volunteer at a local domestic violence shelter or preventative organization. You can find Home Start volunteer opportunities.
- Lead by example. Speak out about unhealthy relationships and don’t minimize stories of abuse.
- Teach your children to respect others and talk to them about healthy relationships. This is another great way to lead by example.
How does Home Start help?
Home Start offers many programs to aid in the prevention and rehabilitation of the negative impacts of domestic violence on children.
- Our Maternity Housing Program offers young mothers in abusive situations a safe, supported environment to raise her children.
- Our Behavioral Health Services provides a wide range of counseling services to children under eighteen.
- The First 5 First Steps program helps mothers during the crucial first three years of raising a child to ensure the family has a strong and healthy start.
- Community Services for Families gives parents the resources they need to educate themselves and improve their family connections.
- Our annual fundraising events like Hallo-Wine create much-needed financial support and awareness around this difficult topic.
Domestic violence destroys families and potentially scars children throughout their lives. This October, and all year long, it’s up to each of us to do our part to end the abuse and encourage strong, loving family relationships.