It is a common psychological fact, that a person’s childhood often shapes them as a human being. Children are sponges, who are constantly observing and learning from the people and world around them. We, of course, want all our nations’ children to be raised in a safe, loving and growth-enabling home. Unfortunately, however, there are many cases of children growing up in a darker situation instead. Children who are often seeing or experiencing various forms of domestic violence or neglect.

What are the effects on a child who witnesses and/or experiences domestic violence?


  • Fear and Anxiety

Children exposed to domestic violence will quickly start to lose their child-like, free nature, as they develop major fear and anxiety. They will constantly be on guard waiting for the next violent event to occur. They won’t be able to feel comfort and safety, as they are unable to understand what causes these violent outbursts. Lastly, children feel powerless as they cannot protect themselves and their family members who are also being affected by the violence.

  • Isolation

Most of the time, when living in an abusive household, children will have no one to talk to about the abuse which is occurring – sometimes not even to their siblings or other family members. They will start to blame themselves for the abuse and feel ashamed, humiliated and embarrassed. They will begin to feel isolated, vulnerable and starved for attention, affection, and approval.

  • Physical Effects

This array of feelings often leads to children being sad/depressed and battling to sleep. They may also begin to develop headaches, stomach pain, start to bed wet and develop concentration issues. Due to this, they may begin to struggle at school due to a lack of concentration. They may develop a stunt in speech, motor and cognitive skills. Children may also begin to mimic the violent or aggressive behaviour that they have witnessed as they have not learned emotional management skills in their home.

Whether the children witness abuse or are abused themselves, they often suffer emotional and psychological trauma. They have a higher risk of developing alcohol and drug abuse issues, juvenile delinquency and post-traumatic stress disorder. They are also more likely to run away from home.

It is important to remember that these children can be helped and recover from the impact the violence had on their psyches and lives. If you witness or suspect cases of domestic violence against children, or in a child’s home, please report it immediately to ChildLine on 0800055555.

Are you looking for a Domestic Violence lawyer? We have a team of specialised family law attorneys who are equipped to help you with your needs. Contact Durban Law Offices on 031 836 0307 or email us at so that one of our lawyers may assist you and/or provide you with advice.