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Domestic Violence and Child Abuse Co-occurrence



Co-Occurrence of Domestic Violence and Child Abuse/Neglect

Co-occurrence exists when a child is independently abused or neglected in a family where domestic violence is also occurring. The abuse or neglect may or may not be related to the domestic violence.

We know:

  • It is estimated that between 3.3 and 10 million children witness domestic violence each year.

  • Approximately 50 percent of men who frequently assaulted their wives indicated they also abused their children.

  • Domestic violence may be the single major precursor to child abuse and neglect fatalities in this country.

  • Children who witness violence suffer greater rates of depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder, alcohol and drug abuse and are at greater risk of entering the juvenile and criminal justice system, and have significantly lower academic achievement.

  • Studies indicate that 80 to 90 percent of children living in homes with domestic violence are aware of the violence.

  • Slightly more than half of female victims of intimate violence live in households with children under age 12.

This does not mean that all families experiencing domestic violence should be referred to the Department of Children and Family Services (DCF) (or equivalent) nor does it mean DCF will respond to all reports of domestic violence. Domestic violence is a risk factor for children. DCF, the court, and others examine factors that can lead to a child safely remaining with the family or the battered parent. Some of these factors may include whether the caregiver demonstrates protective capacities; the children show minimal behavioral or emotional effects; the children have formed a relationship with a supportive adult; an adequate safety plan is in place for the children; and the violence is not currently escalating.


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