Editor’s Note: Catholic Charities Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Program honors survivors of domestic violence and their families with the following article.

A frequent question regarding domestic violence is whether or not it has a negative impact on children involved.  
Some hold the mistaken belief that many children are “too young” to be affected, or that since children are so resilient, they are not impacted as severely by the violence.  
These beliefs are not only incorrect, but potentially dangerous, as the fact of the matter is that children who experience domestic violence – even those who are never directly abused themselves – suffer major consequences as a result.  
The ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) Study – a joint study by Kaiser Permanente and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - is just one tool which offers proof of the detrimental effects of abuse on children.  
The study, which gathers information by using a simple 10-question quiz, asks about various traumas experienced in one’s childhood.  After the questionnaire is complete, the numbers from each question are then added together to indicate levels of risk for resulting negative repercussions.
 For example, the higher a person’s ACE score, the more likely they are to experience a range of negative effects from the trauma they experienced in childhood.
The ACE study found that children who are exposed to domestic violence, whether they are a primary or secondary victim, are likely to experience many difficulties – emotional, mental, social, and even physical – as a result of the abuse.  
These children are more apt to struggle in school and in building healthy relationships with other children; they are also at a greater risk of developing mental and emotional illnesses such as depression and anxiety.
They are more likely to abuse alcohol and other substances later in life, as well as engage in high-risk sexual behaviors. There is even evidence that children impacted by abuse are more likely to suffer from heart disease, stroke, or cancer later in life.    
It is undeniable that domestic violence can have life-altering effects on a child, but that doesn’t mean the child can’t successfully cope with and recover from it.  
Studies show that having at least one healthy, loving relationship with a trusted adult can greatly increase a child’s chance of recovery and wellbeing later in life, despite having suffered abuse. Another helpful tool available to children is talk or play therapy.  
These structured, healthy interactions will provide an outlet for the child as well as help them process and work through any trauma they’ve experienced.  
Although violence can have severe negative consequences for a child’s mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing, it remains a fact that children are resilient and, with the appropriate guidance and assistance, can go on to live healthy and fulfilling lives.

 About Catholic Charities Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Program:
Catholic Charities Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Program provides domestic violence and sexual abuse services to anyone faced with these issues through a 24-hour emergency shelter and crisis phone line, court advocacy, educational groups, job and housing assistance, and outreach to under-served populations.
The shelter provides safe, confidential living for up to eight families at a time. Prevention programs are also offered in high schools and through athletic programs. Catholic Charities serves a nine-county area which includes Harrison, Pottawattamie, Mills, Fremont, Shelby, Audubon, Cass, Montgomery, and Page counties in Southwest Iowa.

About Catholic Charities, Diocese of Des Moines:
Catholic Charities in Des Moines, a United Way agency, was founded in 1924. Catholic Charities wants to offer hope and empowerment to those in need in central and southwest Iowa.
We offer family centered services that empower individuals and strengthen families. Our programs and services address immediate needs, but also strive to educate and connect our clients with resources for a sustainable and successful future. Services include emergency shelter, professional counseling, legal advocacy, housing, job preparedness and placement, nutritional support, refugee resettlement, education programs, and more. For information about Catholic Charities of Des Moines and its programs and services, please visit www.catholiccharitiesdm.org