The Health Effects of Domestic Violence

This post was written by Renee Anderson, our Youth & Family Program Manager.

Many adult survivors of trauma do not identify historical trauma as the reason they are seeking support when they show up at our door. They discuss domestic violence in their current relationship and difficulties they might be facing maintaining stable housing. They may complain of depression or anxiety. They may suffer from physical ailments such as headaches, muscle pains, or stomachaches. Sometimes they report difficulty forming relationships, obtaining employment or that they use substances more than they feel comfortable admitting. It is very rare that adult survivors of trauma are linking current difficulties to abuse they experienced a long time ago.

The ACES study (Adverse Childhood Experiences Study) has found incredible correlations between childhood trauma and the increased risks of suffering from physical health, mental health and adverse societal issues as adults.  The evidence proves that children who have repeated exposure to trauma and violence impacts their brain development and increases the risk of serious health problems, mental health issues, and risky behavior later in life. Children exposed to violence are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol; suffer from depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress; fail or have difficulty in school; and engage in criminal activity. Often, children who display such behaviors are written off as “bad kids,” when in fact those behaviors are symptoms of trauma. With the right supports, children and youth impacted by violence can thrive and lead healthy lives into their adulthood.

There are things we can all do today to help children exposed to violence and trauma. By committing to being a reliable and friendly presence in the life of a child, you are making a meaningful impact. Bradley Angle is a leader in our community for providing supportive services to adult survivors of trauma and their children in an effort to break the intergenerational cycle of trauma and violence. Learn more about Bradley Angle’s Youth & Family Program here.

To learn more about The ACES study, click here.