Kids Who Witness Domestic Violence May Suffer Mentally for Decades

This article identifies findings from a recent study which found that trauma can increase a child’s risk of depression and other mental health issues when they witness domestic violence between their parents. The study included more than 17,700 Canadian adults who took part in a national survey on mental health. Of those respondents, 326 said they witnessed parental domestic violence more than 10 times before age 16, which was defined as chronic. Also, 22.5% of children who were exposed to chronic parental domestic violence during childhood had major depression at some point in their life, 15% had an anxiety disorder, and nearly 27% had a substance abuse disorder. In comparison, the rates among people with no history of violence between their parents were 9%, 7% and 19%, respectively. Many children who are exposed to their parent's domestic violence remain constantly vigilant and perpetually anxious, fearful that any conflict may escalate into assault. Therefore, it is not surprising that adults with a history of parental domestic violence as children have an elevated prevalence of anxiety disorders.

Record Type: 
Stakeholder Resource
Publication Date: 
April, 2022
April 2022
Partner Resources
  • Supportive Services
    • Health/Behavioral Health Referrals and Supports
  • Special Populations
    • Children Impacted by Toxic Stress
    • Domestic Violence Survivors