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Woman abuse and children

Woman abuse affects children

Children who live with woman abuse are more likely to:

  • have a home life that is scary, dangerous, unpredictable and upsetting
  • see or hear their mother being hurt, threatened and/or degraded
  • see the affects of violence, such as their mother's injuries and trauma, broken furniture, etc.

  • get hurt or killed
  • be threatened by the abuser
  • be used by the abuser to control their mother
  • be abusive to their mother because the abuser teaches them to insult, threaten and monitor her

  • worry about their mother's safety
  • worry about their own safety
  • worry about the safety of sisters, brothers, other family members and pets

  • not do well in school
  • get in trouble for fighting and other behaviour
  • have difficulty making friends
  • have unhealthy relationships when they get older

Hurting the woman hurts the children

To hurt the woman, an abuser will do things to her that make the children suffer.

For example, the abuser might:

  • tell the children bad things about their mother
  • tell other people bad things about their mother

  • take the children away from their mother 
  • keep away family and friends

  • control the money so that the mother can't purchase food or clothing for the children

  • prevent the mother from getting the children medicine, doctoring, school support and/or counselling

  • cause the children to lose their immigration status in Canada
  • cause their mother's loss of status so that they are separated from her

  • prevent the family from doing religious practices or forcing them to do religious practices
  • degrade the woman's race or family background, which is also the children's

  • make the mother feel so badly that she can't look after the children

People who abuse women teach children that:

  • hurting another person is ok
  • hurting another person can make things happen your way
  • men are powerful and women must obey

These lessons make children's lives difficult and painful.


No secrets

Even when adults think they are keeping the abuse hidden from children, children feel the effects because woman abuse affects parenting.

Children might:

  • be poorly cared for by the person who abuses their mother because this person is controlling and aggressive
  • be poorly cared for by their mother because the abuser has hurt, upset or frightened her
  • not know what to expect from their parents
  • get harsh punishments - a mother may try to protect her children by punishing them so that the abuser does not


What children think

Younger children might think that:

  • it's their mother's fault that the abuser gets mad
  • the abuser is great because he is powerful
  • what happens in their home is normal

Older children might think that:

  • the violence is their fault
  • if they are good the violence might stop
  • they can protect their mother - some children are injured this way
  • if they tell anyone about the violence something worse will happen
  • their family is shameful
  • abuse in their own love relationships is okay

Like adults, children can have wrong ideas about what causes woman abuse. They might believe that:

  • the abuser can't control his behaviour
  • it's not the abuser's fault - he does bad things because he is drunk, does drugs, can't control his anger, lost his job, etc.
  • it is the duty of the man to control the woman and children


What to do

Children who have lived with woman abuse can learn that things don't have to be this way.

Women's shelters can provide counselling and support to children and their mothers.