Domestic Violence Given the magnitude of the problem of children’s exposure to violence, including the co-occurrence of domestic violence and child maltreatment, early care and education programs are serving children and families impacted by violence. Here are some key facts about domestic violence and intimate partner violence:
1. Intimate partner violence describes physical, sexual, or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse. This type of violence can occur among heterosexual or same-sex couples and does not require sexual intimacy. Intimate partner violence can vary in frequency and severity. It occurs on a continuum ranging from one hit that may or may not impact the victim to chronic, severe beating.
2. Domestic violence is the second leading cause of death for pregnant women, and some 25 to 50 percent of adolescent mothers experience partner violence before, during, or just after their pregnancy.
3. Witnessing family assault is among the most common victimizations experienced by toddlers (ages 2 to 5). Other common forms of victimization are assault by a sibling and physical bullying.
4. In 30 to 60 percent of families where either child abuse or domestic violence is present, child abuse and domestic violence co-occur.
Children may very well experience the violence themselves; however, even when they are not directly injured, exposure to traumatic events can cause social, emotional, and behavioral difficulties. Children exposed to domestic violence have often been found to develop a wide range of problems, including externalizing behavior problems, interpersonal skill deficits, and psychological and emotional problems such as depression and post- traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In addition, a Michigan study of preschool- aged children found that those exposed to domestic violence at home are more likely to have health problems, including allergies, asthma, frequent headaches and stomach-aches, and generalized lethargy.