Working with Children Exposed to Violence

A girl looks sad while standing between her angry parents.

We know that parents who flee domestic violence often worry about the lasting impact on their kids. Yet the stress of leaving an abuser can make it hard for adults to recognize and offer the supports that children need once they are safe. That’s why we’ve rounded up these three guides on serving domestic violence survivors and their families:

1. "The Needs of Children in Domestic Violence Shelters" (PDF, 4MB): Published by the Duke University Center for Child and Family Policy, this 52-page guide helps service providers work with kids who have been exposed to domestic violence. We think readers nationwide will benefit from the authors' suggestions about screening tools, positive parenting, and behavior management--even if some of the resource lists are limited to North Carolina.

2. "16 Trauma-Informed, Evidence-Based Recommendations for Advocates Working with Children Exposed to Intimate Partner Violence" (PDF, 236KB): Using a grant from the Family and Youth Services Bureau, Futures Without Violence developed this list of 16 research-based tips for improving programs for survivors and their children. Several items focus on activities that educate and involve mothers, helping them set daily routines to provide stability, for example, or teaching them age-appropriate words to describe kids' emotions.

3. "Honor Our Voices: A Guide for Practice When Responding to Children Exposed to Domestic Violence" (PDF, 1MB): In Minnesota, a partnership between two university centers and the Avon Foundation for Women led to a 38-page guide that views domestic violence through the eyes of children. The resource spells out common scenarios such as helping kids manage their complex feelings about an abusive parent and provides teen-friendly ways to involve youth in their own path to recovery.

More on Serving Children Exposed to Domestic Violence

Get five tips for engaging children and families in the healing process.

Read a research summary about incorporating the needs of children and youth in safety planning.

Learn why addressing an abused mother’s mental health is important for her children’s well-being.

Publications discussed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Clearinghouse on Families and Youth, the Family and Youth Services Bureau, or the Administration for Children and Families.

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