How Do I Know if a Child is Being Exposed to Domestic Violence?

Children may not verbalize their experience about being exposed to domestic violence, but there are warning signs. While children can be very resilient, and there are some children who display few short-term or long-term consequences from being exposed, the risk of future harm and maltreatment increases for children who are exposed to domestic violence.


These warning signs may indicate a child has been exposed to domestic violence:

  • physical complaints (headaches, stomach aches)
  • tiredness
  • constant worry about possible danger and/or safety of loved ones
  • sadness and/or withdrawal from others and activities
  • low self-esteem and lack of confidence, especially for trying new things (including academic tasks)
  • difficulty paying attention in class, concentrating on work and learning new information
  • outbursts of anger directed toward other adults, peers or self
  • bullying and/or aggression directed toward peers and siblings
  • stereotyped beliefs about males as aggressors and females as victims


Older children may display these signs:

  • suicidal thoughts and actions
  • high risk behaviour including criminal activities, alcohol and substance abuse
  • school truancy or leaving home
  • dating violence