Children and Domestic Violence

Domestic violence has serious, lifelong implications for our children’s future health and well-being.

When a child is exposed to the abuse of a parent, the consequences can be serious and long lasting.

Children are also negatively affected by the daily stress, uncertainty and chaos that follow the abuse. Even if a child doesn’t actually witness the abuse, knowing of the abuse can still have a powerful effect on them.

Research confirms that children exposed to violence are more likely to experience health and behavioral problems such as:

  • Headaches
  • Bed wetting
  • Hyperactivity
  • Nightmares
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Speech disorders
  • Post traumatic stress disorder
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Developmental delays
  • Aggressive behaviors
  • Problems with peer relationships
  • Asthma
  • Frequent school absences
  • Lower grades in school

What is the ACE Study?
The ACE Study is an ongoing collaboration between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kaiser Permanente. The ACE Study is perhaps the largest scientific research study of its kind, analyzing the relationship between multiple categories of childhood trauma (ACEs), and health and behavioral outcomes later in life.

What is an ACE?
Growing up experiencing any of the following before age 18:

  • Recurrent physical abuse
  • Recurrent emotional abuse
  • Contact sexual abuse
  • Alcohol and/or drug abuser in the home
  • An incarcerated household member
  • Someone who is chronically depressed, mentally ill, institutionalized, or suicidal
  • Mother is treated violently
  • One or no parents
  • Emotional or physical neglect

Each exposure counts as an ACE.

What does it mean? 
The study uses the ACE score (number of ACEs reported ) to assess the total amount of stress during childhood.

As the number of ACEs increase, the risk for the following health problems increases in a strong and graded fashion:

  • Risk for intimate partner violence
  • Alcoholism and alcohol abuse
  • Depression
  • Fetal death
  • Health-related quality of life
  • Illicit drug use
  • Multiple sexual partners
  • Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
  • Smoking
  • Suicide attempts
  • Unintended pregnancies
  • Early initiation of smoking
  • Early initiation of sexual activity
  • Adolescent pregnancy