Children and Domestic Violence

Mom and KidsGrowing up in a violent home may be a terrifying and traumatic experience that can affect every aspect of a child’s life, growth, and development.

On average, more than three women a day are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends in the United States. Many of these women are mothers who often go to great and courageous lengths to protect their children from abusive partners. The non-abusing parent is often the strongest protective factor in the lives of children who are exposed to domestic violence.

Getting help for children who have witnessed or experienced domestic violence is critically important.

Facts and statistics on children who witnessed or experienced domestic violence (from Intimate Partner Violence in the United States. U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2006)

  • 15.5 million U.S. children live in families in which partner violence occurred at least once in the past year, and seven million children live in families in which severe partner violence occurred.
  • The majority of intimate partner violent episodes occur at home. Children are present in 43% of these incidents.

Children and Sexual Abuse and Assault

Child sexual abuse includes:

  • any sexual act between an adult and a minor, or between two minors, when one exerts power over the other.
  • forcing, coercing or persuading a child to engage in any type of sexual act.
  • non-contact acts such as exhibitionism, exposure to pornography, voyeurism, and communicating in a sexual manner by phone or internet.

3 out of 4 children who have been sexually assaulted were victimized by someone they knew well.

Emotional and mental health problems are often the first consequence and sign of child sexual abuse.

  • Children who are sexually abused are at significantly greater risk for developing PTSD, anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts.
    • These psychological problems can cause significant disruptions in normal development and often have a lasting impact, leading to dysfunction and distress well into adulthood.
  • Behavioral problems, including physical aggression, occur frequently among sexually abused children and adolescents.
  • Child sexual abuse has been linked to higher levels of risk behaviors.

If you think your child may have been sexually assaulted, talk to your child, listen to your child, and take your child to the doctor.

Susan B. Anthony Project staff can help you and support children and their parents through this process.

Facts and statistics on children and sexual assault: (from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Children’s Bureau report Child Maltreatment, 2010).

  • 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse.
  • 20% of adult females and 5-10% of adult males recall a childhood sexual assault or sexual abuse incident.

For more information on child sexual assault go to