Domestic Violence - pg. 7

Symptoms of Abuse in Children


  • Injuries to body
  • Lethargy
  • Physical neglect (sores, diaper rash, dirty, etc.)
  • Slow to develop
  • Fretful sleep
  • Fearful reaction to a man's voice
  • Vaginal or rectal discharge (often indicates sexual abuse)


  • Injuries to body
  • Frequent illness
  • Low self-esteem
  • Reluctance to be touched
  • Severe shyness
  • Extreme interest in sex play
  • Trouble in day care or preschool
  • Social difficulties (argumentative, hitting, biting, etc)

School Age:

  • Injuries to body
  • Frequent illness
  • Lying
  • Stealing
  • Hitting
  • Nightmares
  • Lack of motivation
  • Eating disorders
  • Repetitive self-abuse
  • Poor grades
  • Self-abusive behavior
  • Depression
  • Withdrawal
  • Need for a lot of attention
  • Nervous disorders
  • Sophisticated knowledge of sex

Children from violent homes learn to believe that:

  • It's acceptable for men to hit women;
  • Violence is the way to get what you want;
  • Big people have power they misuse;
  • Men are bullies who push women and children around;
  • Expression of feelings signifies weakness;
  • Don't talk about violence;
  • Don't trust;
  • Don't feel.
Children living in violent homes may have witnessed verbal threats of injury, objects thrown, floggings, threats with weapons, sexual torture, suicide attempts, and murder. Children are not only witnesses to the violence but may also be assaulted during violent incidents.

Effects on children survivors when they become adults:

  • Higher stress levels;
  • Higher levels of anxiety, depression, and psychiatric illness;
  • Five times more likely to commit suicide;
  • Frequently present to medical caregivers with somatic complaints such as headaches;
  • Experience twice as many miscarriages;
  • Have reduced coping and problem-solving skills;
  • FDV survivors are more likely to: be socially isolated; use alcohol and drugs; abuse dependent children.
(Taken from "Beyond These Walls", 1988)

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