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Impact on Children

Children’s services are a priority for Serene Harbor. We know that domestic violence is a learned behavior. If we intend to have a long-term positive impact, we must recognize these children as primary victims and provide for their needs.

This approach allows us to identity and solve problems that develop in these young victims of domestic violence before they manifest into a lifetime of difficulties. As a result of our focus on children, we have seen a decline in the number of families returning to their abuser directly from the shelter. In the past few years, that return rate has dropped from 35 percent to 14 percent.

How Does Domestic Violence Affect Children?

Children are the silent victims of domestic violence. Their voices may not be heard and their pain often goes unnoticed. Every child from a violent home is abused. Witnessing the two most important people in their life hurting and being hurt damages the core of the child’s emotional being. The following is a partial list of the ramifications and consequences for children living with and witnessing domestic abuse:


  • Increased miscarriages due to increased beatings and/or survivor’s stress.
  • Poor health due to survivor’s stress and lack of proper nutrition.


  • Crying and irritability
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Digestive problems
  • Failure to thrive


  • More aggressive than other children
  • More withdrawn than other children
  • Impaired cognitive abilities
  • Delays in verbal development
  • Poor motor skill abilities
  • General fearfulness, anxiety
  • Stomachaches, nightmares
  • Lack of bowel and bladder control over 3 years old
  • Lack of confidence to begin new tasks

School Age

  • Poor grades or in special classes
  • Failure of one or more grade levels
  • Poor social skills
  • Low self-esteem
  • General aggressiveness
  • Violent outbursts of anger
  • Bullying
  • Withdrawn, dependent
  • Bedwetting or nightmares
  • Digestive problems, ulcers
  • Headaches


  • Poor grades, fails or quits school
  • Low self-esteem
  • Refuses to bring friends home
  • Stays away from home
  • Feels responsible for taking care of home and adult survivor
  • Runs away from home
  • Violent outbursts of anger, destroys property, abuses pets
  • Poor judgment, irresponsible decision making
  • Unable to communicate feelings
  • Immaturity
  • Withdrawn, few friends
  • Bedwetting or nightmares
  • Ulcers, digestive problems
  • Severe acne
  • Violent with dating partners
  • Joining in on beatings of adult survivor
  • Tries to protect an adult survivor
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