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quick escape

Symptoms

What they see can hurt for life

Children of all ages, even infants, can be harmed by seeing or hearing abuse. Below are some symptoms that may appear when children and teens witness domestic abuse.

Babies and Toddlers:

  • Irritability, frustration or inconsolable crying 
  • Frequent illness such as diarrhea 
  • Trouble sleeping 
  • Problems sleeping or eating 
  • Toileting problems (wetting him/herself) 
  • Difficulty separating from caregiver 
  • Developmental delays
  • Lack of responsiveness 
  • Not showing any feelings 
  • More tantrums

Children

  • Headaches, stomach aches, trouble sleeping 
  • Loss of skills learned earlier (toilet training) 
  • Fearful of being alone 
  • Difficulty separating from caregiver 
  • Developmental delays 
  • School difficulties 
  • Anxiety, aggression and acting out 
  • Repeated play or drawing about the violent event 
  • Problems with attention and hyperactivity

Teenagers

  • Using drugs/alcohol 
  • Missing school/Running away 
  • Risky sexual behavior/Pregnancy 
  • Eating disorders 
  • Depression and anxiety 
  • Self- harm or suicidal thoughts 
  • Withdrawing from activities and friends 
  • Abuse in dating relationships

Children who witness violence may also:

  • Act like a parent and feel they need to take care of the family 
  • Take on role of abusive parent and bully family members if that parent leaves 
  • Blame the non-abusive parent for “breaking up the family” 
  • Be misdiagnosed with ADHD because of trouble focusing and hyperactivity
While these behaviors may be hard to handle, children are only doing what they need to survive. Be patient and seek help to deal with these behaviors.

Often, one child in the family appears to be the one with a “problem”. That child is the one letting us know the whole family needs help. Siblings that are quiet and appear fine may just be suffering in different ways.

When we don’t talk about abuse, children will make up their own explanations. They should know that:
  • Abuse is not normal and not okay 
  • Violence is not an okay way to solve problems 
  • Men do not have a right to control women 
  • People do not have the right to abuse others 
  • They have a right to feel safe
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