For children, exposure to family violence occurs not only by seeing it, but also by hearing it from another room, seeing bruises on caregivers and seeing destroyed property. Some changes you may notice in your child include feelings of “numbness,” guilt, anger, helplessness or sadness. Some behaviors to look for in your children include excitability, clinginess, aggressive behaviors with family and friends, nightmares, withdrawal, taking care of parent, loss of energy, school problems, lack of trust, and changes in sleep and/or eating patterns. Please contact the Family Violence Protection Team at 974-8535 and ask to speak to a counselor regarding any questions concerning your child.

The Experiences of a Child Living in a Violent Home

  • Danger: Often children are the intended victim of one or both parents. Other times children get caught in the middle and are hurt or killed “by accident.”
  • Chaos: The children may never know what to expect at home. Their parents’ moods can change instantly from loving to enraged.
  • Fear and tension: The intermittent anger and violence create a living nightmare for the children, who may grow up being afraid of everything and trusting no one.
  • Confusion: Children often receive mixed messages. For example, at school they learn that hitting is wrong, but at home they learn that hitting is used to “solve” problems.
  • Isolation: Often an abusive parent shuts off the family from the outside world, and the children may withdraw from their friends and other adults as well.
  • Hopelessness: Children may blame themselves for the violence but feel powerless to prevent, stop or escape it.

Development of a “Love/Hate” Relationship with Parents

  • Children may feel protective of an abused parent, but they may also resent him or her for not stopping the abuse.
  • Sometimes children may feel close to the abuser. Other times they may hope he or she goes away or dies.
  • Children may feel guilty for not being able to rescue their family or for loving someone who is abusive.


  1. Rushed you into a relationship
  2. Is jealous and possessive
  3. Controls your money or wardrobe
  4. Has unrealistic expectations
  5. Controls who you talk to
  6. Isolates you from family/friends
  7. Blames you or others for his/her problems
  8. Destroys your property
  9. Is cruel to children and/or animals
  10. Humiliates you
  11. Calls you names
  12. Loves you/hates you
  13. Has a history of battering
  14. Threatens/intimidates you


Domestic Abuse is a pattern of controlling and coercive behavior which can involve physical, sexual, economic, emotional and psychological abuse. It affects people who are married, divorced, living together, or dating. People in heterosexual or homosexual relationships from all social, economic, racial, religious and ethnic groups can experience domestic abuse. Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence, but women are by far the most common victims.


When a member of a household intentionally, knowingly or sometimes recklessly causes visible physical harm including the infliction of pain, that household member will by state law and the policies of the Austin Police Department be subject to arrest and prosecution. The internal policies of the Austin Police Department mandate an arrest on the spot or, should the offender not be present at the time of the report, by the issuance of a warrant of arrest signed by a judge.

Related Program

Child Abuse Unit