Children are Victims of Domestic Violence Too

Kenya Fairley, Program Manager, Division of Family Violence Prevention & Services, Family & Youth Services Bureau

During Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we mourned the lives that have been affected by domestic violence. Even if they are not the direct targets of the violence, children experience the consequences of domestic violence in their homes. They may see or hear physical violence between their parents, and experience the effects of living in a household dominated by tension, stress, and fear. On a single day in 2016, the Domestic Violence Counts 11th Annual Census Report found that 19,673 children found safe refuge in domestic violence emergency shelters or transitional housing programs, with another 5,888 children receiving non-residential services with their abused parent.

Victim services and children’s programming are and will be a critical lifeline for families in danger of experiencing ongoing violence at home, and several of ACF’s programs and partners focus on serving the entire family in a domestic violence situation.

Promising Futures, a project of Futures Without Violence funded through the Administration for Children & Families, is a valuable resource for organizations and individuals working to meet the needs of women, children, and youth experiencing domestic violence. Tools to assess program readiness, strategies to implement promising practices, ways to document success, and guidance on evaluating effectiveness are all included to support programs in expanding their work.

Promising Futures also works with grantees of the ACF program Specialized Services to Abused Parents and Their Children. These twelve two-year demonstration projects are funded to implement and evaluate a variety of strategies that are effective, culturally responsive, and trauma informed to enhance safety and healing for abused parents and their children. Programming is being offered through community-based and state domestic violence coalitions, child welfare programs, and mental and behavioral health services across the United States.

The best possible solution is prevention. Prevent IPV: Tools for Social Change focuses on promising interventions and preventing the violence before it ever occurs. Prevent IPV (Intimate Partner Violence) includes a searchable collection of resources, such as training tools, campaigns, promising programs, evidence, policies, and other materials that schools and communities can adapt to enhance their prevention activities on the state and local levels. Guidance on how to make the case for prevention resources and programs is a key part of the strategy.

During DVAM, we partner with agencies across HHS to raise awareness of domestic violence. Through a partnership with the Children’s Bureau Child Abuse and Neglect Technical Assistance Strategic Dissemination (CANTASD) facilitated a Digital Dialogue where child welfare and other allied professionals learned more about the link between child abuse and neglect and domestic violence. The dialogue featured Dr. Johnny Rice, a child witness to domestic violence, who shared his childhood experience and his perspective on addressing trauma for children who witness domestic violence or experience trauma as a professional who works with troubled youth.

If you know of a victim in need or a family exposed to domestic violence who may want to talk with someone, The National Domestic Violence Hotline is available 24/7/365 at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224 for TTY. Live online chat services are available every day from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. CT at  

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