Children can be harmed indirectly by other types of family violence, such as spousal or partner abuse. Studies show that child abuse and battering of the childs mother occur together in the same household up to 75% of the time.(1) Even when child abuse does not accompany spousal abuse, up to 87% of incidents of partner violence are witnessed by children.(2)
When children witness spousal abuse, they are deeply affected. The following are some effects seen in children of different ages:
Womb - 1 year:
Verbalizes what is witnessed
Acts out violently
Delayed toilet training
Problems relating to other children
Heightened sibling rivalries
Low self esteem
Prone to violence
Caretaker of adults
Caretaker of siblings
Causes problems to divert abuse from Mom
Embarrassed by family, isolated (3)
Spousal abuse can take on many different forms, including:
Actual or threatened physical injury
Psychological abuse (for example: intimidation or threats)
Progressive social isolation(4)
Abusers often use some of the following tactics to maintain power and control over their partner:
Please take some time to think about your relationship and whether or not your spouse are partner has power and control over you. If you think that you are being abused, it is extremely important for both you and your child(ren) that you seek help.
Please call one of the following 24-hour toll-free numbers to
speak with someone who can help (these calls wont show up on your phone
bill, unless you use a cell phone):
In Massachusetts, call the SafeLink Hotline at 1-877-785-2020. Spanish-speaking rape crisis counselors are available at 1-800-223-5001.
In other States, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233).
The AWAKE (Advocacy for Women and Kids in Emergencies) Program at Childrens Hospital Boston provides extensive individual and group domestic violence advocacy and intervention services for battered adult and adolescent women (patients, parents/caretakers of patients, and employees). For more information about AWAKE, please call 617-355-4760.
(1) Walker, L., Thyfault, R., and Browne, A. (1982) Beyond the Jurors Ken: Battered Women and Violence. Yllo, K., Bograd, M. (1994) Feminist Perspectives on Wife Abuse. McKibben, L., DeVos, E. and Newberger E. (1989) Victimization of Mothers of Abused Children.
(2) Walker L. (1984) The Battered Woman Syndrome.
(3) AWAKE Project. Childrens Hospital Boston.
(4) 1997-1998 Risk Management Update for the Massachusetts Physician. Medical Education Group Learning Systems, Inc., 1997.
February 29, 2004