Growing up in a home living with domestic violence can have a profound and lifelong impact

-Dr. Renee McDonald, leading expert in family violence 

What is the impact of Childhood Domestic Violence?

According to extensive research, growing up in a home living with domestic violence, Childhood Domestic Violence, has a powerful and profound impact on one’s life and hopes for the future.

CDV negatively wires a developing brain and the formation of the cognitive belief system. It instills a common cluster of negative beliefs that, if unchallenged, can last well into adulthood, leading to emotional & psychological, relationship, substance abuse, physical health, and career & education challenges.

“They will not reach their full potential in life…unless they unlearn what was learned.”

– Dr. David A. Sousa, expert in educational neuroscience, and author of 'How the Brain Learns'

CDV.ORG Understanding The Impact How The Brain Learns

Childhood Domestic Violence and the developing brain

CDV.ORG IMPACT Page - CDV Impact a Developing Brain

Understanding the impact that childhood domestic violence can have on a life begins with understanding its impact on brain development.

Children who experience CDV are in a constant state of hyper-vigilance, excessive worry and fear – the “fight or flight” response – which can change the structure of their brain. According to research, children growing up in homes with domestic violence often experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and brains scans from children from these homes are similar to brain scans of veterans returning from combat.

The Common Cluster of Negative Beliefs 

Childhood Domestic Violence instills a cluster of false negative beliefs, or the LIES, one believes about himself/herself and the world.  If left unchallenged, they grow stronger as one enters and progresses through adulthood.  Leading experts agree the LIES fall into 10 key categories.

It is not uncommon for one who experiences childhood domestic violence to believe they are guilty, thinking they should have stopped the violence or that they caused it in some way.  Resentful toward their situation in childhood and towards those who caused it.  Sad and alone.  Angry, as they grew up living with so much anger.  Hopeless because good things don’t happen to people like them.  Literally worth-less than others.  Fearful because of all the fear they faced.  Self conscious because they believe all of the above.  And ultimately unloved and unlovable. The brain then finds evidence to support what it believes is true, whether true or not.  Over time, one simply believes this is who they are, ‘I’m just this way’.   

One may use different words to describe the lie, such as shame instead of guilt or lost instead of hopeless.  The lies above are more categories or clusters of negative beliefs.  False negative beliefs that are untrue as it is never a child’s job to control the actions of an adult.

For every LIE, there’s, a corresponding TRUTH. Exposing the LIES and embracing the TRUTHS is the path towards reaching one’s innate potential. Start unlearning the LIES…

Areas of Impact

CDV.ORG The Impact What CDV has on your life Physical Health


Growing up with domestic violence is strongly correlated with the top 10 leading causes of early death , including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

CDV.ORG The Impact What CDV has on your life Physical Health


Those who grow up with domestic violence often struggle with mental health, anxiety, and depression, are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol and are far more likely to succumb to suicide.

CDV.ORG The Impact What CDV Does to a Life Behavior


Growing up with CDV greatly increases one’s risk for behavior challenges, including withdrawal, aggression, bullying, teen violence, and future violent behavior & incarceration.

CDV.ORG The Impact What CDV has on your life Physical Health


Those who experienced CDV often struggle with intimate relationships, parenting and in forming the long term close connections they crave.  According to a leading researcher, ‘they predictably elude them’.

Troubling statistics associated with childhood domestic violence

Childhood Domestic Violence is associated with a number of statistics that reflect its profound and often life-long impact. Below are just a few.

to attempt suicide

to abuse drugs / alcohol

to commit a violent crime

of domestic violence in adulthood

of prisoners come from these homes

“Many leave their childhood homes but are unable to live the lives they hoped because they cannot connect the dots between their childhood home and the challenges they face today, and they’re simply unaware of that fact.”

– Dr. Renee McDonald from the preface of the book, Invincible - The 10 lies you learn growing up living with domestic violence and the truths to set you free.

The path forward – challenge the lies, consider the truths

For every LIE, there’s a corresponding TRUTH. Exposing the LIES and embracing the TRUTHS is the path to reaching one’s innate potential.  New research concludes the brain CAN unlearn what was learned. One of the most effective paths is when THE ONE steps in or you can be THE ONE for yourself.  Click the button that best applies to you to take the next step.