Children Affected By DV and SA

Children’s Issues

The Women’s Center, Inc.’s Children’s Program, one of the first in the state, was developed in 1982 to focus on issues specific to children. The Children’s Outreach Advocate works closely with children who have been sexually, emotionally or physically abused or who have witnessed abuse. In addition to dealing with safety issues, Children’s Program staff try to counter the many negative effects of violence in the child’s life. Overall, we provide an atmosphere of trust and respect by encouraging non-violent, non-sexist behavior.

The Children’s Program seeks to support and empower children to build self-esteem, express themselves and develop problem solving and coping skills.


Domestic Violence and Children

782f43c74c1bc2e53a08276a584c73c0Each year more than ten million children witness domestic violence. Although parents believe they can hide the violence from their children, research suggests that between 80 – 90 % of these children are aware of the violence. Children that have witness this violence are more likely to attempt suicide, abuse drugs and alcohol, run away from home, engage in teenage prostitution and commit sexual assault crimes.




  • In homes where domestic violence occurs, children are abused at a rate 1500% higher than the national average.
  • Children in homes where violence occurs may experience, developmental delays, stress related physical ailments, hearing and speech problems.
  • Emotional effects of witnessing domestic violence are similar to the trauma associated with child abuse, the feeling that they are responsible for the abuse, constant anxiety that another incident will occur, guilt for not being able to stop the abuser or for loving the abuser and fear of abandonment.

Child Sexual Assault / Incest

Child sexual violence is any sexual contact between a child and an adult or between a child and another child. Child sexual violence may include, but is not limited to, the following crimes: rape, incest, voyeurism, statutory sexual assault, indecent exposure, prostitution, exposure to pornographic materials and molestation. Victims and offenders come from all ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds, in rural and suburban areas. Child victims are primarily assaulted by a relative or a close family friend that has a high level of interaction with the family. Next to family members, babysitters are the second largest group of child sex offenders. Child sex offenders rarely need to use force. The crime arises from the child’s natural need to please others and gain love and approval.



  • 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually assaulted before the age of 18.
  • 10% of all rape victims are under the age of 18.
  • 75% of child sexual assault victims are assaulted by someone they know.
  • Most child sexual assaults occur during the day and usually occur in familiar surroundings.
  • Many molesters first engage a child’s trust and later pressure the child to keep the abuse a secret.


Our Summer Gateways Program

The Women’s Center, Inc. offers an eight week summer day camp for children who have been exposed to domestic violence and sexual assault. The sessions begin the end of June and run till the beginning of August, meeting once a week for almost a full day. Gateways, combines community involvement with structured activities to provide an educational and fun experience! Children are encouraged to be creative, to interact cooperatively and to express their individuality. Every session is centered around a theme to help them to realize that violence is never a good solution and to show them non-violent alternatives.

Past Gateways activities have included:

  • BTE Children’s Theatre
  • Folk dancing
  • Kite making
  • Outdoor activities
  • Miniature golf
  • Visit to the children’s museum
  • Safekeeping
  • Scavenger hunt
  • Knoebels Grove

The Gateways program is designed to be fun and interesting so the children look forward participating in upcoming summers. This program is offered at no cost to the participants.


For more information on this Summer’s Gateways program, please contact our Child Outreach Advocate at (570) 784-6632.