Answers to Common Questions About Child Abuse and Neglect

What is Happening Emotionally?

Guilt - feeling/responsible
Shame - this doesn't happen to my friends
Fear of expressing feelings
Confusion - Conflicted loyalties
Anger about the violence and chaos
Depressed/Helpless/Powerless to change things
Grief over family losses
Worthless or undervalued

What is Happening Socially?

Isolated - without friends or support
Difficulty trusting others
Poor conflict resolution skills
Maybe excessively socially active
Maybe passive with others and/or seek power to be aggressor/bully

What is Happening Behaviorally?

Acting out or withdraw
Overachiever or underachiever
Refusal to go to school
Aggressive or passive
Rigid defenses - aloof, sarcastic, blaming, defensive
Attention seeking behaviors
Bedwetting, Nightmares

What is Happening Physically?

Complaints - headaches, stomachaches, asthma, etc.
Nervous, anxious
Tired, lethargic
Sick - Often with colds, flu
Personal hygiene neglected
Regression in development tasks - bedwetting - thumb sucking
No reaction at times of physical pain


What is Happening Cognitively?

They are learning to feel responsible for the violence
Learning to blame others for their behavior
Learning to have a low self concept
Learning to not ask for what they need
Learning to feel anger is bad
Learning that it is ok to hit those you care about to get what you want

Infants and Toddlers

Developmental Delays
Failure to Thrive - This is due to the chaotic, loud environment
Emotional Withdrawal - Low frustration tolerance
Physical Problems - Frequent colds, ear infections, diarrhea

Symptoms in Children Who Witness Their Mother's Abuse

Sleeplessness, fears of going to sleep, nightmares, dreams of danger
Headaches, stomachaches
Anxiety about being hurt or killed
Fighting with others, hurting other children or animals
Temper tantrums
Withdrawal from other people and activities
Listlessness, depression, little energy for life
Feelings of loneliness and isolation
Fears of going to school or of leaving mother alone, truancy
Stealing, lying
Frozen watchfulness or excessive fear around the abusive person
Acting perfect, overachieving, looking like small adults
Worrying, difficulties concentrating and paying attention
Eating disorders


Between 3.3 and 10 million children live in homes where domestic violence takes place.

In these homes, child abuse and neglect is 15 times more likely.

The risk of sexual abuse is 7 times greater for girls whose fathers batter their mothers.

75% of boys who witness domestic violence have been found to have demonstrable behavioral problems.

50% to 70% of men who assault their partners also abuse their children.

Male children who witness partner violence are 3 times more likely to abuse their partners as adults.

Research results suggest that battering is the single most common factor among mothers of abused children.

In one study, 27% of domestic homicide victims were children.

When a children is killed during a domestic dispute, 90% are under age 10, 56% are under age 2.

Boys from homes where domestic violence is present are:

4 times more likely to abuse in a dating relationship.

25 times more likely to commit rape as an adult.

6 times more likely to commit suicide.

Have a 74% greater chance of committing crimes against others.

Have a 24% greater chance of committing a sexual assault as an adult.

AND 1000 times more likely to commit violent acts against their own children.