Domestic violence plays out differently in every family experiencing such violence; therefore, child(ren) and adult victims coming to visitation centers will have their own unique safety needs, with the children’s safety and well-being often dependent on the adult victim’s safety.[1] More than two decades of studies show that in families where women are abused, many of their children also are abused or neglected.[2]

Other studies have found that children who are exposed to domestic violence often exhibit behavioral and emotional problems, cognitive functioning and attitude problems, and longer-term problems.[3] In addition, children may demonstrate good behavior in the presence of the batterer and act out in the presence of the adult victim for many reasons not readily apparent to or understood by visitation center staff.[4] The opposite could also occur if the children feel safe with staff present.[5] Understanding that children could have their own valid reasons to criticize or be afraid of the batterer is important to understanding more fully the safety needs of child(ren) and adult victims.

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[1] Susan Schechter & Jeffrey L. Edelson, NCJFCJ, Effective Intervention in Domestic Violence & Child Maltreatment Cases: Guidelines for Policy and Practice 11 (1999).

[2] Id. at 9.

[3] Jeffrey L. Edelson, VAWNet Applied Research Forum, Problems Associated with Children’s Witnessing of Domestic Violence (revised Apr. 1999), at See also Schechter & Edelson, supra note 1, at 11.

[4] Clare Dalton, Leslie Drozd & Hon. Frances Wong, NCJFCJ, Navigating Custody and Visitation Evaluations in Cases with Domestic Violence: A Judge's Guide 12 (2004, revised 2006).

[5] Id.