Aside from parents, you, as a therapist or educator, have a significant influence on the current and future life of a child. That’s why you can’t be passive or silent if you see signs that a child may have been abused — recently or in the past.

If a child in your charge seems abnormally withdrawn or unusually aggressive and antisocial, direct or indirect domestic violence may be the reason.

If ignored and untreated, the rest of his life could be impaired and imperiled in some way. Don’t sweep this under the rug.
Because parents are often the culprits of a child’s trauma, he’s likely to fear them and, therefore, not view them as his saviors. He’ll be in traumatic limbo. That’s where you can play an instrument role.

Childhood domestic violence (CDV) is pervasive in America but rarely discussed anywhere. CDV, according to the Childhood Domestic Violence Association ( and UNICEF, impacts more than 15-million American children in the United States and over 40 million adults, who experienced it as children. Now considered a global public-health crisis, CDV affects one-billion people, including 275-million children.

Many children grow up in homes 1) experiencing physical, verbal, or emotional abuse – from parents, stepparents, significant others of parents, relatives, and caregivers; 2) witnessing it between their parents or between their parents and other family members and friends; or 3) losing friends or family members to it.

A child who merely witnesses CDV, a situation too often overlooked, is a secondary victim and often suffers in silence, as if experiencing the trauma directly. Such a child can be as likely in the future as a primary victim to turn to violence and seek abusive relationships.

CDV victims are six times more likely to commit suicide, 50-percent more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol, and 74-percent more likely to commit a violent crime.

CDV is the single best predictor of whether children will become either perpetrators or willing victims of domestic violence later in life.

Denial, fear, and shame allow CDV to be passed on from one generation to another. As long as this is so, CDV will continue to affect generations of families.

If you suspect that a child has been traumatized by domestic violence, take action.

First, give this child a Hope Bear to soothe her, to get her to open up.

Once she has begun expressing herself, begin to draw her out, while she is clutching her bear. Undoubtedly, she will tell you what is bothering her.

Then, you will have to discuss this matter with her parents, while assuring the child that she’ll be safe afterwards. You must notify the parents that they’re not to retaliate against the child for exposing them, that you are there to help — that you have backup resources in the case of retaliation. This is a tricky but necessary step: Consider the consequences to the child’s life of not acting, of remaining silent. Finally, urge the parents to get psychological counseling for their child and for themselves.

Project Hope Bear is an IRS-approved 501(c)(3) charitable organization. EIN=830570676. Your donation is tax-deductible.