What is Domestic Violence? 

The term “domestic violence” is sometimes used to include all forms of family violence, including between parents and children, siblings, and elder abuse. However, domestic violence is more commonly used to identify “intimate partner violence.” Individuals who have a close, personal relationship may experience:

  • Physical abuse

  • Emotional, verbal and mental abuse

  • Sexual abuse

  • Coercive control, including stalking, harassment, trespassing and other unwanted acts

These relationships include people who are married, living together, or dating and includes couples in same sex relationships. Domestic violence can also include people who are former partners, separated or divorced couples, and those who are co-parenting.

Domestic violence is serious and preventable, and it impacts millions of Americans. Not only can domestic violence result in serious injury and even death, but it also has lasting effects on health and well-being.

Domestic violence tends to disrupt social supports, interfere with coping, and make it difficult to work and take care of things at home. Individuals experiencing domestic violence may find it difficult to concentrate, make decisions, plan, and move towards goals. Many individuals find it difficult to use self-control, have confidence in themselves, and maintain a hopeful outlook.

How Violence Affects Children

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An estimated 5 million children witness domestic violence in the U.S. every year. Children in homes where violence occurs are neglected or physically abused at a rate that is 1500% above the national average. Witnessing and/or experiencing violence exposes infants and young children to stressors that can harm the development of their brains and impair cognitive and sensory growth. Elementary school-aged children who have been exposed to violence may have more trouble at school and have difficulty focusing and concentrating. Later in life, these children are at a greater risk for depression, substance abuse, and criminal behavior than children who are brought up in a home without violence. Some studies indicate that exposure to violence also impairs social development in children. These children may have difficulty in making friends because they are hesitant to trust others or are unsure of what is acceptable social behavior. Many studies show that children who have been exposed to violence display more signs of aggressive behavior and are up to three times more likely to be involved in fighting. The Children’s Program at the Family Crisis Center empowers families to interrupt the cycles of violence, build capacity for self-regulation and executive functioning.