Protecting Our Children The overlap between domestic violence and child abuse has been well documented; where one form of family violence exists, there is a likelihood the other does as well. Child abuse and domestic violence often occur in the same family and are linked in several ways that have serious consequences for the safety of children. First domestic violence may directly result in physical and / or psychological harm to the child. Second, even though a child may not sustain physical injuries, domestic violence can interfere with parenting to the point that the child is neglected.

Third, if child abuse and domestic violence are present in a home, both problems must be addressed to effectively intervene. Children can be injured as a direct result of domestic violence. Batterers may physically, emotionally, and sexually abuse children in order to control the actions of their spouse. Children may also be injured by objects or weapons used to attack their mother.

Assaults on younger children may occur if the mother is holding the child while being attacked. Older children who try to break up violent disputed between parents may also sustain injuries. Children of all ages are affected by domestic violence. Infants exposed to violence may not develop the attachments to their caretakers which are critical to their development.

Preschool children regress developmentally and suffer sleep disturbances. School age children who are exposed to violence may exhibit depression, anxiety, and violence towards peers. Later in life, these children are at risk for incorporating violence into their own relationships. There is also evidence that children exposed to domestic violence are at greater risk for abusing drugs and alcohol and for committing violent crimes. Th most effective way to help mothers and children is to combine child protective and domestic violence programs. This way both victims are protected.

However, the abused can only be helped if they make others aware of the problem. Victims of domestic violence and child abuse need support from others. They should confide in someone they trust and seek the help of police and domestic violence programs. Together a safety plan for the mother and children can be developed.