When Home Isn’t a Safe Place – Children of Domestic Violence and PTSD….


I grew up in a home where domestic violence was a way of life and as a child I heard and saw thing no child should ever see or hear. A place where home was not safe but filled with fear and anxiety and where my voice was never heard. No safe arms to run into to tell me it was going to be ok, in fact we never discussed it, not once that I remember. I felt like I was on my own taking care of myself and my own feelings and fears at a very young age. I often felt like I was the adult in the house frequently standing in between two adults who were arguing and fighting and telling them to stop.

I felt like I was the only one who knew that fighting and hitting and arguing were wrong, especially in front of the kids. I felt like I didn’t matter, like my feelings didn’t matter and more like a piece of furniture in the house, rather than a child who should be loved and cherished. I was just sort of there and that was it, having to watch all this play out in front of me. I never felt like had a safe place to say how I felt about anything so those feelings stayed bottled up inside of me for years, and even as an adult voicing those feelings I always felt like they were downplayed in some way. Now I realize that I don’t need any outside validation of my feelings or my pain. but they just are what they are on their own and all they need is my own validation.

Not feeling safe, never feeling safe and all that I saw and heard was another wrung on the PTSD ladder. I lived it for years, day in and day out carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders and unable to utter a word about it. Then later on when I got married it was to someone who carried on the domestic violence when he was drunk. I divorced that man after making a promise that my children would never see and hear the things that I did and I kept that promise. The cycle had to be broken for my kids because there was no way I wanted them to ever know what abuse felt like and how much it hurt.

Definition of Domestic Violence:

“Domestic violence and emotional abuse are behaviors used by one person in a relationship to control the other. Partners may be married or not married; heterosexual, gay, or lesbian; living together, separated or dating.

Examples of Abuse Include:

  • name-calling or putdowns
  • keeping a partner from contacting their family or friends
  • withholding money
  • stopping a partner from getting or keeping a job
  • actual or threatened physical harm
  • sexual assault
  • stalking
  • intimidation

Violence can be criminal and includes physical assault (hitting, pushing, shoving, etc.), sexual abuse (unwanted or forced sexual activity), and stalking. Although emotional, psychological and financial abuse are not criminal behaviors, they are forms of abuse and can lead to criminal violence.

The violence takes many forms and can happen all the time or once in a while. An important step to help yourself or someone you know in preventing or stopping violence is recognizing the warning signs listed on the “Violence Wheel.”

ANYONE CAN BE A VICTIM! Victims can be of any age, sex, race, culture, religion, education, employment or marital status. Although both men and women can be abused, most victims are women. Children in homes where there is domestic violence are more likely to be abused and/or neglected. Most children in these homes know about the violence. Even if a child is not physically harmed, they may have emotional and behavior problems.”


Impacts of Family Violence on Children:

“Family Violence research indicates that even when children are not direct targets of violence in the home, they can be harmed by witnessing its occurrence. Children who live in situations of family violence can suffer immediate and permanent physical harm, even death. They can also experience short and long-term emotional, behavioural and developmental problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder.

In some cases of physical and sexual abuse, the victims have considerable problems with behaviour, negative peer involvement, depression, anxiety, violence to others, developmental delays, irregular school attendance and inappropriate sexual behaviour.

It is known that witnessing family violence is as harmful as experiencing it directly. Often parents believe that they have shielded their children from intimate partner violence, but research indicates that children see or hear many of the incidents. Children who witness family violence suffer the same consequences as those who are directly abused. In other words, a child who witnesses intimate partner violence is experiencing a form of child abuse.”


If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, get help and leave immediately. If you have children, please don’t think that by staying for the children’s sake you are doing them any favours: you are actually causing them great harm instead.


3 thoughts on “When Home Isn’t a Safe Place – Children of Domestic Violence and PTSD….

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