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How Can a Kid Eventually Overcome the Traumatic Burden of Witnessing Domestic Violence?

Research, interest and concern for our youth is what drove me to write this article.


As a mother, the anguish of having to deal with the heartbreak of her kid after seeing their father hit their mom can be a long painful misery. According to, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men will experience "severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime". If you or anyone you know are victims of such type of trauma, trust and believe that there are trustworthy ways to put you at ease. Kids are likely to grow up with a long list of health issues as a result of seeing their parents fight. With a viable plan, there's hope for less negative, hindering future effects on children victims.

Barbara witnessed her biological father beat her mother for 12 years, starting at the age of six years old - she is absolutely traumatized by the history. As an adult, she now suffers from anxiety, complex PTSD, night terror, Insomnia, and Hypochondria. In addition, she is rebellious, has trust issues, and has a hard time concentrating. A colleague at your current job may be a victim of witnessing domestic violence as a kid, the reason why they fail to get along with other e- the talk of the office. The key to treating your kids at a young age when witnessing such foul behavior is to instill resilience in them. This quality is ideal for overcoming troublesome burdens.

What is resilience?

According to Google's dictionary, the definition of resilience is "the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness". So, what this means for a kid who had witnessed an abusive relationship between their parents is that they must be able to put the disappointing situation behind them by not letting it completely overcome their thoughts and replacing related negative thoughts with affirmations, committing powerful actions accordingly thereafter. In addition, these affirmations and actions must be supported with positive relationships, such as with parents or caregivers; victims need guidance from people they can trust.

Learn from Barbara

Unlike Barbara, the kid that you're likely thinking of on this subject matter can have the tools needed to get over that stressful, exhausting, and traumatizing hump of witnessing domestic violence. Just imagine if you were a kid all over again and saw your trusting father strike your loving mother with aggression after only knowing tenderness and care with laughs and smiles followed by hugs and kisses from your parents? Your childhood is likely ruined if not properly taken into consideration. Robyn Chittister wrote an article at detailing the effects that being exposed to domestic violence has on the brain of a child. Chittister writes, "Exposure to violence causes chronic stress, fear, and anxiety, which are toxic to the brain and impairs brain development".

Besides going mute as a kid and getting into a few fights, as an adult, Barbara now has trouble keeping relationships going with men she cares for. She is afraid that her partner will fail to continue to live up to his favorable actions (sweetness, love, and care) for longevity, which sabotages her happiness and lands her in a mud puddle of loneliness and misery.

In addition, she wakes up in the middle of the night in fear - sweating and screaming because of, not only the domestic violence instances (which is now seen in her sleep), but nightmares of similar traumatic effects (a killer chasing her at night, drowning, being mauled by tigers, etc.). Barbara never visited a psychologist at a younger age about her troubles or at least spoke concerns with someone close to her. She shut up, became mute, and carried fear with her throughout school. If only she had access to a psychologist, or at least motivated to find help (literature, hotlines, groups, etc.) by any means, then as an adult, she'd likely have a tighter bond with others that can in turn contribute to her exhilaration.

How to instill resilience in a child - 3 considerations

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Relationship - a positive adult that promotes a healthy relationship with a child can reverse the physiological changes that are triggered by stress. A supportive adult can be a huge factor when it comes to a child's developing stage. If severe stress-related occurrences are included during a child's early growing stages, related illnesses of physiological changes can result. Supportive adults play a protecting role for the well-being (brain, body, and immune system) of the child.

Strengthening their prefrontal cortex - doing this improves the power of the kid to manage their own behavior and feelings. Instead of them having to drown from the effects caused by witnessing domestic violence, the kids can learn, at an early age, the elements needed to stay afloat and even swim with confidence to enjoy a pleasurable life. Creative play, establishing a routine, and allowing kids to disagree with you and tell you why you're wrong are three keys to strengthening the prefrontal cortex.

Confidence to ask for help

There are many instances when a kid can handle burdensome situations themselves and times when the burden is too much to bear. When a kid is in a bit of a jam, asking for help coming second to being too proud to ask for help can be detrimental. Just like a kid not having any tools to work themselves through a traumatic past is defeating, so can refusing to ask for help. Sometimes we have the proper tools to work out our problems but just need some guidance on how to use them for particular hardships that are puzzling to us.

How do I stand up to an abuser?

To approach an abuser can be as nerve-wracking as approaching a 50-foot snake. But if you'd like to conquer your fear and gain some understanding, and perhaps closure, from at least one traumatic event then you can follow the upcoming guidelines:

  • You'd want to take someone with you just in case you need support.
  • Arrive prepared by rehearsing what you want to say and perhaps a list of topics handy to keep you focused.
  • And remain in control. Make sure you get all of what you want to say out in its totality. You want the abuser to know how they made you feel and what you're going through without their creepy interruptions.

After you meet with your abuser, you want to feel relieved as if you captured the 50-foot snake and sent it off to a zoo.

Kids can be fragile as roof lights

If you're providing support for kids who witnessed abuse, and you're not a professional in such regard, cherish patients. Don't be so hard on the kid if they don't understand your resilience tactics in the beginning. Hold their hand as long as it takes, but simultaneously release your firm grip gradually. If you're too hard on a kid you can crush their spirit and they'll likely give up on you and what you've accomplished will come tumbling down like an old vacant building. As a consequence, you'll have a whole new problem on your hands.

Barbara developed anxiety, fears, trust issues, insomnia, and other major health issues due to witnessing domestic abuse as a child. She never received any help after a traumatic event and she paid the price. Thankfully, Kids do not necessarily have to grow up and suffer mental anguish as a result of their parents' violent behaviors. With instilled resilience in a kid, they can possess the keys needed to not only overcome the effects of witnessing violence at home but anything of difficulty in their life.

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