Common Characteristics Shown by Children of Domestic Violence

Studies have found that there are many common characteristics shared by children who have witnessed domestic violence within the family. Not all characteristics will be displayed by all children, but most children will demonstrate at least some of the behaviours indicated below.


 Behaviours Exhibited by Girls Behaviours Exhibited by Boys
  • Clinging behaviour
  • Withdrawn, passive, compliant
  • Approval-seeking behaviour
  • Low frustration tolerance or infinite patience
  • Acting as mother's little helper
  • Continuation of somatic complaints
  • Aggressive, acting out behaviour
  • Bullying
  • Temper tantrums
  • Low frustration tolerance
  • Difficulty concentrating

Behaviours Exhibited by Both Genders

  • Blaming themselves for the violence
  • Sleep disturbances (such as nightmares, insomnia)
  • Eating problems (over or under eating)
  • Rigid gender role identification
  • Physical complaints, such as stomach aches and headaches
Some Children Experience One Extreme: While Others Will Experience the Opposite:
  • Impaired concentration span
  • Difficulty with school work
  • Poor attendance / fear of attending school
  • Being labelled slow learners
  • Clumsy, accident-prone behaviour
  • Excellent academic work
  • Perfectionist standards
  • Harbouring a tremendous fear of failure
  • Overly responsible, especially the eldest child