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The Effects of Domestic Violence on Children

Every child who is exposed to domestic violence reacts differently, but the behaviours listed are some of the most common signs that a child is being emotionally affected. If your child has seen, heard, or been aware of the "aftermath" of violence between you and your partner, and has displayed any of the behaviours below, it is important that you seek counseling from an agency for both you and your child.

To find out about services in the Marathon area you can call the shelter at 807-229-2222 and we can help you.  




  • Sleep disturbances (sleeping so much that they have to be awakened to eat or a lack of restful sleep)
  • Eating disturbances (always wanting to eat or never wanting to eat)
  • Continual fussing and crying
  • An inability to be comforted
  • Being easily startled (exaggerated response to loud noises or quick movements, often followed by inconsolable crying)
  • Being easily irritated
  • Listlessness (lethargic, lacking in energy)



  • Frequent physical complaints (chronic stomach aches, headaches, nausea, general aches and pains, unexplained vomiting)
  • Difficulty going to bed
  • Frequent nightmares or night terrors
  • Inability to be comforted
  • Slow motor responses/movements
  • Not knowing how or when to play
  • General sadness
  • General meanness toward other children and adults
  • Swearing

 Elementary Age Children - All of the Symptoms in Toddlers, Plus:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Consistent inability to complete homework/tasks
  • A drop in grades or consistently low grades
  • An inability to sit still, stand in line, or follow directions in class
  • Frequent trips to the bathroom
  • Hiding
  • School phobia (not wanting to go to school, being afraid to leave home)
  • "Regressive" behaviours (returning to behaviours the child has outgrown such as sucking thumb, bed-wetting, crawling, etc)
  • Bullying other children
  • Cruelty to animals or other smaller children
  • General "Acting out" behaviour



  • Property destruction
  • Self-destructive behaviour
  • Frequent physical complaints
  • Cruelty to animals, smaller children, peers of the opposite gender
  • Truancy
  • Frequent fighting
  • Running away
  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Suicidal talk, threats or attempts
  • Nightmares 
  • Carrying or keeping weapons
  • Depression
  • Sleep disorders (sleeping too much or inability to sleep)
  • Eating disorders
  • Obsessive/compulsive behaviours
  • Isolation
  • Lack of involvement with peers, community, school or family