Linda Baker and Allison Cunningham (2007) share that “children are not passive witnesses to noise, tension and violence at home.  Little eyes and little ears don’t miss much, soaking in sights and sounds.”

According to the 2004 Canadian General Social Survey, 40% of those who had experienced a violent incident said that a child heard or saw the violence or threat. Likewise, in almost 5% of incidents of domestic violence known to the survey, a child was threatened or harmed.

Children accounted for 23 of 230 domestic homicide related deaths in Ontario between 2002-2007 (10%).9

Children are not just witnesses in their own homes; they:

  • see the victim assaulted or humiliated
  • hear loud conflict
  • are denied what is owed to them in child support
  • are blamed by the abusive parent for the abuse
  • are manipulated into abusing the victim as well
  • are dragged through prolonged court proceedings
  • are determined to help
  • may referee or try to rescue the victim
  • may protect younger siblings or seek outside help
  • learn that violence can get you what you want
  • may learn that victims are weak
  • learn that those who love you can still hurt you
  • learn that abusive relationships are normal

10 Ways a Child Can Be Changed by Violence

The following list is taken from Linda Baker and Allison Cunningham’s publication Little Eyes, Little Ears (2007):

  • Children are denied a good father and a positive male role model
  • Abuse can harm the mother/child bond
  • Children can develop negative core beliefs about themselves
  • Children can be isolated from helpful sources of support
  • Unhealthy family roles can evolve in homes with domestic violence
  • Abuse destroys a child’s view of the world as a safe and predictable place
  • Abuse co-occurs with other stresses and adversities with negative effects
  • A child’s style of coping and survival may become problematic
  • Children may adopt some of the rationalizations for abuse
  • Children can believe that victimization is inevitable or normal