Domestic Violence & Neglect Law

How Does Domestic Violence Affect Children?

Domestic violence has powerfully destructive and disruptive effects on more people than just the immediate victim. When there are children in the house, they are likely to suffer lasting behavioral, social, and emotional effects.

Children may also become exposed to the legal system in the wake of domestic abuse. This article explains what to expect if that is the case.

The Short-Term Effects of Domestic Violence

The effects of domestic violence on children will be different according to their age and cognitive development. But even infants react to stress and loud noises.

As children grow older, whether they are toddlers, grade school age, or teens, the potential effects of domestic violence are likely to be more severe. As they try to understand the rush of emotions they are hit with, they can act out in different ways.

Long-Term Effects of Domestic Violence

Acting out is likely not to be simple, one-time thing either. Children who witness domestic violence in the home are much more likely to either commit domestic violence and/or become victims of it later in life.

There can be long-lasting mental health struggles as well, which can lead to depression, anxiety, and possibly physical health issues.

The Legal Effects of Domestic Violence on Children

In addition to all of the mental and physical health ramifications that children may be left to deal with simply from witnessing or being victims of domestic violence, all of these are likely to compound further as the legal system gets involved.

First, if there is domestic violence in the home, children may likely also have to witness a parent being arrested by police in their own home, which can be a traumatic experience. There will also likely be an investigation by the state Department of Children and Family Services, which will likely mean interviews and court appearances.

If domestic violence means the end of the parents' relationship, children will also have to go through the child custody process, which will also involve interviews and court appearances.

Being forced to flee your home can cause added stress and instability, although it may be necessary for your children's safety. If both parents lose their parental rights, the children will likely be put into the foster care system, which also does not provide much stability.

Do What You Need to Keep Children Safe

It is often necessary to remove children from a dangerous or abusive situation if they are in one. You should notify the police and reach out for help if you or your children are the victims of domestic violence. Shelters in many areas can help you with your particular situation and deciding what is safest and best for your family. There is also a confidential 24/7 hotline you can call.

This article is to help you think about what the children will be dealing with. That means getting them help will be paramount. If you are unable to do that on your own, the legal system can also assist with appointing a guardian ad litem who can advocate for your children's best interests.