October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. During this month Champions strives to talk about domestic violence and bring awareness to how it affects our community and our children. 

Did you know? According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner. In Florida alone, more than 100,000 cases of DV were reported last year. Of those 100,000 cases, 60% of those reported children were exposed to domestic violence and nearly half were assaulted themselves. 

This week, we sat down with our Associate Director, Nikki Daniels, for a Q&A about domestic violence and its effects on children. Nikki is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with over 25 years of experience working with trauma and a Graduate Certificate in Trauma and Resilience for Public Health. She has expertise in all forms of abuse and trauma.

Q: What are the signs of domestic violence? 

A: The more obvious signs are the physical ones like bruises, broken bones, and black eyes that don’t have a good explanation. Since Domestic Violence is really about one person trying to control another, most of the signs are not visible. Non-visible signs could include the victim being afraid or feeling unable to make a decision without the abuser, a partner who is very critical, or a victim who is afraid of the abuser’s reaction if s/he is out too late—these are things you might see in a friend or relative. 

If you are wondering if you are a victim of Domestic Violence, here are things to consider:

  1. Does your partner try to control who you see and what you do? 
  2. Does s/he criticize you, make you feel crazy, or minimize the abuse? 
  3. Does your partner threaten to hurt or kill you, others close to you, or your pets? 
  4. Does s/he make you feel like you are unworthy? 

Remember that most of domestic violence is really about the mind game, taking control of you by making you feel unworthy of positive attention as if you are incapable of making a decision and don’t deserve anything different.

Q: How can we prevent domestic violence? 

A: The best way is to raise children who are loved and know how to love. They will value themselves and will know how to love another person without needing to control them. For adults, the best way is to make clear that you do not tolerate abuse, or anything less than treating others with respect. Don’t allow jokes that demean others or promote violence.

Q: How do you keep domestic violence victims safe? 

A: That’s hard, because that final decision is the victim’s. The best thing we can do is support her/him by believing in their value and empowering them to make decisions by providing information and resources. You can call the National Domestic Violence hotline (1-800-799-SAFE) or your local domestic violence program for guidance.

Q: What is the impact of domestic violence on children? 

A: Almost 1/3 of American children have witnessed Domestic Violence. Children impacted by Domestic Violence are more likely to:

  1. have difficulty in school
  2. abuse drugs or alcohol
  3. suffer from depression and other mental health issues
  4. be a victim of Domestic Violence themselves as adults

Q: How do children recover from witnessing domestic violence? 

A: The same way they recover from any trauma. 

  1. By being believed and supported
  2. By having positive caring adults to help them feel safe
  3. By helping them see their value
  4. By providing structure while allowing them to have appropriate control and choice over their lives

The physical abuse or neglect of children in homes where domestic violence occurs is between 9 and 15 times higher than the national average. Champions is here to help families learn to cope with the stressors of life and to help give families the skills to love and nurture their children. Children who are raised in loving and nurturing homes with positive parenting skills build stronger families and communities. 


Links to Resources

Intimate Partner Violence and Child Trauma 

Domestic Violence Hotlines & Helplines

The Spring of Tampa Bay

The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay