Child Witnesses to Domestic Violence

Over 15 million children in our nation live in homes where there has  been at least one incident of domestic violence in the past year, and  seven million children live in families where severe partner violence  has occurred. Data indicates that 30% to 60% of perpetrators of intimate  partner violence also abuse children in the home. Growing up in abusive  household can pose a threat to not only the child’s physical health but  his mental health as well.

Research indicates that the non-abusive parent is often one the most  important protective factors in the lives of children who witness  domestic violence. All women, children, and men have the right to live  in a safe environment and to conduct their lives without emotional,  physical or sexual abuse or the fear of abuse.

Often, one of the greatest concerns for battered women is the affect  of living in a violent home environment on children. In some instances,  the domestic becomes so severe that women with children leave their  homes without a place to go. Research indicates that domestic violence  is a leading cause of homelessness. In a 2007 report by the United  States Conference of Mayors, thirty-nine percent of the city leaders who  were surveyed identified domestic violence as a primary cause of  homelessness among households with children.

Victims of domestic violence experience difficulty finding housing.  There simply are not sufficient beds to house all the battered women and  their children seeking shelter. The U.S. Conference of Mayors report  indicated that city leaders turn persons experiencing homelessness away  from shelters and transitional housing because of lack of capacity all  or some of the time. Not only do battered women experience challenges in  securing a bed in a shelter, they also often have difficulty securing a  safe, decent, affordable apartment.

Domestic violence thrives on apathy. It can be eradicated with an  equal amount of conscience, mind, heart, and collective action. How you  can help? Advocate for increased funding for domestic violence programs  and public housing.

Sources:United  States Conference of Mayors. Center for Diseaese Control & Prevention (CDC), National Domestic Violence Hotline, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. McDonald, Renee, Ernest N. Jouriles, Suhasini Ramisetty-Mikler, et al. 2006. Estimating the Number of American Children Living in Partner-Violent Families; Edelson, J.L. (1999). “The Overlap Between Child Maltreatment and Women Battering.” Violence Against Women. 5:134-154; U.S. Conference of Mayors. 2007. A Status Report on Hunger and Homelessness in America’s Cities: A 23-City Survey. Washington, DC.

Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

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