Domestic Violence and Impact on Brain Development
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, where we take time to reflect on the impact of violence on many families in our communities. We know that about 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men will be victims of domestic violence in their lifetime. Many people think of domestic violence as hitting, but it also includes emotional abuse, intimidation, financial control and other ways for the abuser to exert coercive control over the victim.
Oftentimes, the silent victims in families where there is domestic violence are the children. One in four children witness domestic violence in their homes. Some people think the children are too young to understand or know what is happening, but that is just not true. They may not have words to tell what happened, but those memories are stored in their little bodies and brains.
We know that babies and young children are experiencing explosive growth of their brains. If stress and trauma are experienced during that time, it impacts the child’s developing brain. Neural pathways develop that quickly take the child to fear and anxiety during any new or stressful situation. Exposure to domestic violence can cause ongoing fear of harm or abandonment, difficulty regulating emotions, difficulty trusting and forming relationships and difficulty sleeping among other negative impacts.
At Champions, our staff of 140 professionals work every day to help children have caring adults in their lives, adults who understand child brain development and know how to bond with their child. These protective factors have been proven to reduce the impacts of trauma, including exposure to domestic violence.
Post by Nikki Daniels, CFCTB Associate Director
Posted by Tamara Chapman on October 25, 2019