Special Feature: Family Violence

image of Family Violence

Family violence covers a broad range of acts that can include emotional, financial, physical, and sexual abuse. Family violence not only harms the victim, but it also poses dangers for and impacts immediate family members as well.

Domestic violence is a serious personal and social problem that impacts victims physically, psychologically, and socially. Research has shown that causes of domestic violence may include early parenthood, problem drinking, severe poverty, unemployment, and mental and emotional distress. Efforts to prevent domestic violence require a clear understanding of these factors that contribute to family violence, coordinating resources, and fostering and initiating change in individuals, families, and society.

Children, when experiencing domestic violence as witnesses, can suffer from devastating effects. Research has shown that children who witness domestic violence report symptoms of trauma at an elevated rate, signifying that child witnesses to family violence are a highly victimized group.

Additionally, domestic violence and child maltreatment often co-occur in families. To what extent is difficult to estimate, but studies have indicated that anywhere from 30 to 60 percent of domestic violence cases are accompanied with child maltreatment situations.

This exposure to violence can harm a child's emotional, psychological, and even physical development. Children exposed to violence are more likely to have difficulty in school, abuse drugs or alcohol, act aggressively, suffer from depression, and engage in criminal behavior as adults.

To help inform about what has been shown to be successful or promising, the CrimeSolutions.gov website contains reviews and ratings of a variety of programs and practices that aim to prevent family violence, help victims, and reduce the impact to witnesses.

The pages of this Special Feature contain publications and resources related to family violence, the prevention of such violence, and response. Select a topic from the "Family Violence" box to learn more.