Domestic Violence…

  • Occurs in all age, racial, socio-economic, educational, occupational, and religious groups
  • Occurs within an intimate relationship
  • Typically involves repetitive behaviour encompassing different types of abuse – physical assault and sexual assault, psychological and emotional abuse (see Power and Control Wheel)
  • Is used to intimidate, humiliate or frighten victims as a systematic way of maintaining power and control over them
  • Is learned behaviour
  • Is caused by the perpetrator, NOT by the victim nor the relationship
  • Is a criminal offence when physical or sexual force, actual or threatened is used;
  • Differentially affects men and women. Women experience more violence, more severe forms of violence and more serious injuries than male victims of domestic violence
  • May present increased risk to the victim and children at the time of separation from the abuser
  • Evokes victim behaviour that is often about ensuring survival (e.g., minimizing or denying the violence, taking responsibility for the violence, using alcohol or drugs, self defense, seeking help, remaining in the abusive relationship)

Children who witness domestic violence are at an increased risk for experiencing social,
emotional and/or behavioural problems. These may include:

  • Sleep troubles, nightmares, fear of falling asleep, restless/anxious behaviour at naptime,
  • Headaches, stomach-aches, somatic symptoms, complaints of being overly tired,
  • Severe separation anxiety (beyond what you would normally expect for this age group) or separation anxiety that lasts an extended period of time,
  • Increased aggressive behaviour and angry feelings,
  • A very high activity level, constant fidgeting,
  • Constant worry about possible danger,
  • Loss of skills learned earlier (such as toilet training, naming colours etc.),
  • Withdrawing from friends and activities,
  • Not showing feelings about anything (emotional numbing),
  • Worrying a lot about the safety of loved ones (e.g., needing to see siblings during the day, asking constantly about Mommy),
  • Difficulty choosing and completing an activity or task,
  • Repetitive play about the violent event,
  • Bullying or aggressive behaviour toward others.
  • Re-experiencing aspects of the violence (e.g., repetitive playing out of violence, nightmares),
  • Avoidance of reminders of the violence (e.g., may avoid males who raise their voices, shy away from conflict),
  • Numbing (e.g., may not show feelings about anything),
  • Increased arousal (e.g., may show strong startle responses to noise or startle easily in general, may be highly active)

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