Witnessing abuse carries the same risk of harm to children’s mental health and learning as being abused directly

Research shows that both the perpetrator and the victim in domestic abuse situations minimize the impact the abuse will have on their children. People tell themselves that the children don’t realise what’s going on, that they never see anything directly, that they were asleep, that they’re to young to understand what’s going on.

Its an understandable tendency. Admitting that the children are being harmed is a bitter pill to swallow. But the research is clear. They know. They feel it. They are impacted. In every fiber of their being. And it will manifest itself in different ways for different children. Some children develop behavioral problems. Some children develop learning difficulties or ADHD. Some children retreat into a fantasy world. Some children develop health problems. Some children become “the perfect child” on the outside. But every. Single. One of them. Is impacted. And it will affect them and their developing brains, bodies and emotional life, for the rest of their days.

Domestic violence is scarier than war, especially for young children, because it happens in a place which is supposed to feel safe, and is a betrayal from someone who is supposed to be a protector. Children are totally powerless, especially young children, and the most damaging time is during pregnancy and for the first three years.

If you’re in this situation, please reach out to the closest domestic abuse hotlines or women’s shelter.