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How does domestic violence impact children?

Domestic violence impacts everyone in and close to the situation, but children are the least equipped to understand and deal with domestic violence in a healthy way. Even if the children are not directly being abused, it can have a lifelong impact on their mental and emotional health.

It has been well documented that children living in a home where domestic violence is occurring can experience a host of problems, from trouble keeping up in school to acting out behaviors. These children may also become withdrawn and show symptoms of depression or may experience extreme anxiety, which can manifest in a host of physical symptoms. These symptoms occur in both children who directly experience domestic violence and those who only witness it happening to others.

Studies have shown that children who witness domestic violence are more likely to be in these types of situations as adults than those who grow up in nonviolent homes. Children may come to believe that violence is a normal part of a relationship, and end up being either a victim or an abuser later on.

Domestic violence is more common in homes where the children are younger, and this means that the children often have very little outside experience with the world to witness emotionally healthy relationships. They also do not have the coping skills to know what to do to help themselves or deal with what they are seeing and experiencing.

Domestic violence situations can escalate quickly, and it is important to take every measure possible to protect yourself and your children. Obtaining a restraining order is one of the first steps to take, and a family law attorney can help you through the process.

Source: UNICEF, "Behind Closed Doors The Impact of Domestic Violence on Children," accessed July 01, 2015

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