A recently-published research study from Canada found that children who witnessed parental domestic violence had a higher incidence of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse than children without that exposure.  Among a sample of more than 17,000 people responding to a survey, 326 had been exposed to chronic parental domestic violence (more than 10 incidents before age 16).  Among that subset, 15% developed an anxiety disorder later in life.  That rate was more than double the rate (7.1%) among those not exposed to domestic violence.

The good news for those of us who have parented children with trauma is that, in both groups, the vast majority of children suffered no long-term mental health problems.  They were resilient and able to move past the negative effects of their childhood trauma.  More important, those children with social support had greater odds of complete mental health.  That is the area where we can provide help for our kids.  We cannot change the past or erase their trauma.  We can, however, provide social support that will help build resilience and help them overcome their past trauma.


Debbie Ausburn

Helping foster parents and stepparents learn how to be the person who is not supposed to be there.