October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month
Domestic Violence has a big impact on the smallest victims.
Domestic violence includes physical, emotional, financial, and sexual abuse. Domestic violence affects all communities and all social-economic levels. Growing up in a violent home can have devastating effects on a child, impeding their growth, development, and overall quality of life. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, at least 750,000 children a year witness domestic violence, and in Kansas in one day alone 727 victims of domestic violence sought help. One out of every four children has been exposed to violent behaviors between their parents or caregivers.
Most children will be affected in some way by the tension and stress of being exposed to a violent home, and children zero to five are especially vulnerable due to their rapidly developing brain. Research shows that the impact of violence is associated with adverse outcomes for children’s development and that younger children appear to exhibit higher levels of emotional and psychological distress than older children, leading to possible outcomes of behavior, social, and emotional problems in their future. Some adverse effects frequently associated with children from violent homes include eating routine and sleeping routine disruption, bed wetting, nightmares, aggression and anxiety.
Because children are the secondary victims of this often silent abuse, caregivers and adults who work with them need the awareness and skills to recognize and meet the needs of children exposed to violence in the home. Recognizing the signs of domestic abuse and its effects on children can be tricky and uncomfortable but is a first step in the right direction. Check out these websites to learn more:
Kansas Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence: http://www.kcsdv.org/
Futures Without Violence: http://www.futureswithoutviolence.org/