Domestic Violence Awareness Month

domestic violence logoOctober was first declared as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month in 1989. Since then, October has been a time to acknowledge domestic violence survivors and be a voice for its victims. Domestic violence is prevalent in every community, and affects all people regardless of age, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, or nationality.

What behaviors do children who witness domestic violence exhibit?

The emotional responses of children who witness domestic violence may include fear, guilt, shame, sleep disturbances, sadness, depression, and anger (at both the abuser for the violence and at the non-offending parent for being unable to prevent the violence).

Physical responses may include stomachaches and/or headaches, bedwetting, and loss of ability to concentrate. Some children may also experience physical or sexual abuse or neglect. Others may be injured while trying to intervene on behalf of their parent or a sibling.

The behavioral responses of children who witness domestic violence may include acting out, withdrawal, or anxiousness to please. The children may exhibit signs of anxiety and have a short attention span which may result in poor school performance and attendance. They may experience developmental delays in speech, motor or cognitive skills. They may also use violence to express themselves, displaying increased aggression with peers or family members. They can become self-injuring.

Click the link Effects on Children to learn how the responses vary with age and developmental stage.  In addition to developmental stages, the responses depend on the severity of the violence, their proximity to the event, and the responses of their caregivers. 

Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) 2021 theme, Community Support + Action = Social Change, outlines the objective of the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence (ICADV) for all Iowans to come together, recognize, and support, the stories and experiences of survivors, families and communities who have been impacted by intimate partner violence.