"How to Talk to Your Child about Domestic Violence"

When children witness or experience abuse in the home, they can be dramatically affected by it in very negative ways. Every abusive relationship has similarities and differences, but when children are involved, the same message is sent.


Following is a list of destructive beliefs that a child may internalize when they witness or experience domestic violence. A child may believe that:


  • Abuse is normal


  • Violence is a good way to solve problems


  • Violence has a place in the family


  •  If violence is reported to others in the community, nothing is done about it


  • Unequal sexist power in the family is to be encouraged


  • Violence is an appropriate means of stress management


  • Being violent gets me what I want


  • Victims of violence are supposed to put up with the abuse


  • Victims of violence cause the violence


  • Any abuse must be kept secret


  • People cannot be trusted



Children in families where abuse is occurring may take on additional responsibilities to protect their parent and siblings who are being abused. They may try to keep the peace and pacify the abuser. They may believe that they are at fault for the violence and if they were better children, the violence would not occur. It is very important that these messages be combated early to prevent them from growing into adult beliefs.


  • Talking through things is a better way to resolve problems


  • There is no room for abuse in our family


  • There are police, shelters and resources available to help


  • Men and women are created equally by God


  • Stress can be managed through other healthy avenues


  • Compromise fairly


  • It is never okay for someone to abuse me

  • Being violent is a choice that is made by the abuser

What a Child Learns from Domestic Violence