Do you know a child who exhibits a behavioral disorder, such as anxiety, depression, aggression, or social withdrawal?

Researchers have found that Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are the root of many behavioral disorders, but there’s one ACE that many people forget about: Childhood Domestic Violence (CDV).

What is Childhood Domestic Violence (CDV)?

Domestic violence is a serious issue that affects millions of people around the world. Unfortunately, children are often the silent victims of this kind of abuse. When a child sees or hears domestic violence, this experience is called Childhood Domestic Violence (CDV).

How does CDV cause behavioral disorders?

Experiencing domestic violence can have a profound impact on a child’s development, often resulting in behavior disorders and other emotional and psychological problems. In fact, about three in five children who experience CDV develop behavioral disorders. These behaviors can persist well into adulthood, affecting a child’s ability to form healthy relationships, hold down a job, and function effectively in society.

One reason for this is that witnessing domestic violence can lead to a feeling of helplessness and a loss of control. Additionally, about three in five children who experience CDV blame themselves, carrying undue guilt and shame.

Feelings of helplessness, guilt, and shame can create a sense of anxiety and fear that can be difficult to shake. These feelings can also manifest in other ways, such as a tendency to become easily frustrated or angry, or a tendency to act out in order to gain a sense of control.

What are some other ways CDV impacts children?

Children who witness domestic violence may also experience a range of other emotional and psychological problems. For example, they may struggle with trust issues, have difficulty forming attachments, and struggle to regulate their emotions. This can make it difficult for them to form healthy relationships, and can also affect their ability to perform well in school. For example, one study suggests that 43% of children living with CDV read at a level below their peers.

In addition, children who witness domestic violence are more likely to become victims or perpetrators of violence themselves. This is because they may grow up believing that violence is an acceptable way to resolve conflicts, or because they may have a skewed view of what constitutes a healthy relationship. This can create a cycle of violence that can be difficult to break.

How can you support children with a behavioral disorder caused by CDV?

If you know a child living with CDV, you can empower them to become resilient against the negative effects! Here are a few ways you can offer support:

  • Be a positive influenceResearchers find that when children have positive adult influences, they are better able to overcome traumatic experiences like CDV.
  • Encourage development of talents and skillsStudies show that when children are able to focus on developing talents and skills, their resilience to trauma is strengthened.
  • Be willing to listen – When children have the opportunity to talk about and label their feelings, they are better able to heal from Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).
  • Practice mindfulness exercises with themPsychologists find that practicing mindfulness activities can help “reduce past-oriented traumatic memories and future-oriented anticipatory fears.”
  • Take our online Change A Life program – This 40-minute program teaches you how to intervene when you know a child living with CDV.