Many times children are impacted by domestic violence even when parents attempt to protect them. The effects of domestic violence on children can be seen in their development, from academic problems to difficulty socializing. There is also an increased chance of drug/alcohol use, mental illness and criminal activity. To shed some light on this problem, we have put together information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ACEs Study, the study opened up conversation about how people are impacted by many experiences in their childhood. We will also discuss how trauma can impact the brain, it is important to understand the impact trauma can have on the brain in order to work towards rewiring it in a positive way.


Unfortunate truths

Children who experienced domestic violence, once they become an adult are:

6 times more likely to commit suicide

50% more likely to be addicted to drugs and/or alcohol

74% more like to commit a violent crime


Trauma and the brain


There is science behind how our brain functions in high stress situations, the research shows that many people who experienced trauma during their childhood have increased sensitivity in the brain. The increase is due to natural hormones released during times of stress. This sensitivity results in higher levels of stress, anxiety, and depression which can impact many areas of a person’s life. It can be an endless cycle if ignored, but just as the brain can change from negative reactions it can change from positive reactions. Self-awareness is often the first and hardest step in rewiring the brain.¬†Click to read the full article about how trauma rewires the brain.



Short-term effects of domestic violence on children:

  • Generalized anxiety
  • High activity levels
  • Intense worry about their safety or the safety of a parent.
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Increased aggression
  • Increased anxiety about being separated from a parent.
  • Sleeplessness
  • Nightmares

Long-term effects of domestic violence on children:

  • Physical Health Problems
  • Behavior problems in adolescence (e.g., juvenile delinquency, alcohol/substance abuse)
  • Emotional difficulties in adulthood (e.g., depression, anxiety disorders, PTSD)
  • Lower scores on measures of verbal, motor, and social skills


CDC-Kaiser ACE Study


“The CDC-Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study is one of the largest investigations of childhood abuse and neglect and later-life health and well-being.”

The Adverse Childhood Experiences that are studied:

  • Childhood emotional abuse
  • Childhood physical abuse
  • Childhood sexual abuse
  • Physical neglect
  • Emotional neglect
  • Substance abuse in the household
  • Mental illness in the household
  • Violent treatment of a mother or stepmother
  • Parental separation/divorce
  • Had a member of the household go to prison

The score the people in the study receive is on a scale of 0 to 10 based on how many of these they experienced. Experiencing one of these was very common, two-thirds of the people surveyed experienced at least one Adverse Childhood Experience.

childhood domestic violence

ACE Study major findings

As the number of ACEs increases, so does the risk of the following:

  • Alcoholism and alcohol abuse
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Depression
  • Fetal death
  • Health-related quality of life
  • Illicit drug use
  • Ischemic heart disease
  • Liver disease
  • Poor work performance
  • Financial stress
  • Risk for intimate partner violence
  • Multiple sexual partners
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Smoking
  • Suicide attempts
  • Unintended pregnancies
  • Early initiation of smoking
  • Early initiation of sexual activity
  • Adolescent pregnancy
  • Risk for sexual violence
  • Poor academic achievement


If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, contact The Shelter 800-931-7233. Call 9-1-1 in an Emergency. If you aren’t sure what domestic violence is, click here to visit our page to read more.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (April 2016). Adverse Childhood Experiences. Retrieved from:
Childhood Domestic Violence Association. (n.d.) 10 startling statistics about children of domestic violence. Retrieved from: (August 2016). How Trauma Rewires the Brain. Retrieved from: