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Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month 2023

April is Child Abuse Prevention Awareness month and at the National Center to Advance Peace for Children, Youth, and Families, we’re highlighting the intersection of domestic violence and child welfare.

The prevalence is eye-opening: 15.5 million children live in families in which intimate partner violence occurred in the past year. 1 

Historically, many systems have treated exposure to domestic violence as child abuse, focusing on the danger it poses to children. However, this approach can be harmful to survivors of domestic violence because it blames them for the abuse instead of holding the person who used violence accountable. This can make it harder for survivors to seek help and can put families at a greater risk of abuse. 


A look at what’s inside our Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Calendar

The Importance of the Parent-child Relationship 

Despite the challenging and often traumatic situations that survivors face in their attempt to overcome or escape violent situations for themselves and their children, these primary caregivers, particularly mothers, show incredible strength and support towards their children. Women’s motherhood role and identity can be a source of strength for survivors. Striving to be a “good mother” despite the abuse may provide a sense of value and self-worth.2 

Maintaining loving and supportive relationships with parents and other significant adults, receiving treatment interventions that nurture parent-child relationships, and implementing culturally-specific support to both the survivor parent and those that use violence can help in reducing the traumatic effects that intimate partner violence can have on children.  

A mother nuzzles her baby with overlay text stating “If I know what love is, it is because of you”

Truth-telling on barriers to leaving and self-sufficiency for domestic violence survivors

A young father wearing glasses holds up his smiling toddler son and gives him a kiss on the cheek

Yet no matter how hard a survivor tries,  many systemic challenges pose barriers for survivors to receive the support they need to live in lives free of violence and that are nurturing of the children. For example, Leaving is typically a process, not a singular event. Survivors often engage in a period of planning and strategizing for the safety of themselves and their children as they prepare to leave.3 

References:

  1. McDonald R, et al. (2006). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16569098/ 
  2. Semaan I, et al. (2013). https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1077801212475335 
  3. Bermea AM, et al. (2020). https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0886260517692332  Storer HL, et al. (2021). Id.