5 Ways Adult Survivors of Child Abuse Are Affected Now

Adult Survivors of Child Abuse
Photo by Milada Vigerova on Unsplash

Adult survivors of child abuse are scattered throughout society. They are our teachers, neighbors, coworkers, and friends. Their past pain is invisible to others, and there’s  a reason for that. According to the National Center for Child Abuse and Neglect, child abuse is one of the most under-reported crimes in the United States. Only about 20% of cases are reported, and of those, only about 5% result in convictions. As a result, many adult survivors of child abuse are left feeling isolated and alone. Here are 5 ways that adult survivors of child abuse are affected now.

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1. Adult Survivors' Problems with Relationships

Adult survivors of child abuse often have difficulty with intimacy and relationships. This is because they were abused as a child, which has caused them to develop trust issues and a fear of being hurt again. They may also be hypersensitive to any type of touch, which can make dating and forming relationships difficult.

Sometimes, adult survivors have difficulty trusting anyone, even their own family members. They may become very guarded and suspicious of people, which can make it difficult to form close relationships.

Adult survivors of child abuse often have difficulty developing healthy relationships. This can make it difficult to find employment or maintain any other form of meaningful social life. It can also be difficult to share painful memories with anyone else because they are afraid that they will be judged or disbelieved.

2. Adult Survivors Struggle with Self-Esteem Issues

Adult survivors may also experience difficulty with self-esteem and confidence. This is because they may have been shamed or blamed for what happened to them as a child and may feel like they are not good enough.

They may also feel guilty about what happened and doubt themselves constantly. As a result, adult survivors often require great strength and resilience in order to move on from child abuse.

Adult survivors may struggle with negative self-talk, guilt, and low self-esteem due to the emotional pain they experienced as a child. It is important for them to seek support groups or therapy specifically designed for adult survivors of child abuse in order to help them heal and move on.

3. Adult Survivors Have Self-Destructive Behavior

Adult survivors of child abuse are more likely to experience self-destructive behavior, such as drug and alcohol abuse, eating disorders, and suicide attempts. This is because adult survivors of child abuse often feel like they have been broken or that they are defective. Their attempt to numb that pain can lead to self-destructive behavior.

Self-medicating becomes an option for adult survivors too embarrassed to seek help. They may feel they will be viewed negatively. Holding in those emotions can lead someone to develop addictions as a distraction.

Adult survivors may also feel like they have no control over their lives and may become overwhelmed by their feelings of shame and guilt. These emotions can lead them to engage in self-destructive behaviors to cope. This can have a significant impact on their ability to function both now and in the future.

4. Adult Survivors Experience Physical & Mental Health Conditions

Adult survivors of child abuse may also experience anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This is because the abuse they experienced was not just physical but also psychological and emotional. Adult survivors of child abuse may experience problems with sleep and eating habits, which can lead to health conditions.

These conditions can lead to a number of physical health problems, such as headaches, stomachaches, and insomnia.These conditions can make it very hard for adults to function normally, which can impact their ability to take care of themselves and their families.

Sometimes, adult survivors of child abuse may also have co-occurring addictions or disorders such as alcoholism or drug addiction. This is due, in part, to the trauma that was inflicted on these individuals during their childhood. Addictions and disorders often become more severe in these individuals because they have difficulty dealing with the emotions that were brought on by their abuse.

It is important for adult survivors to seek help if they are struggling with an addiction or disorder. This will allow them to manage their symptoms and move forward with their life.

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5. Adult Survivors Feel They Always Have to Be Strong

Adults survivors who have experienced child abuse often feel like they need to be strong and carry on. They may feel like they have to keep a brave face and let no one see how they are feeling. They may also feel like they are always alone in their pain, and that no one understands what they’ve been through.

Adult survivors may feel like they can’t let anyone see them cry or they need to be in control at all times. This can make it difficult for them to seek help, especially if they are worried that their abuser will find out.

When they were children adult survivors’ abuse was a secret. They were told not to tell anyone, and they rarely told. Now that the secret is out, it’s hard for them to trust people. While adult survivors often feel like they need to be the strong one, in reality they’re just as vulnerable as everyone else.

It’s hard to let go of the fear of being hurt again. It can take a lot of courage to open up about what happened to them. But healing is possible for adult survivors of abuse, and with the support of friends and family, they can get through it.


Research has found that there is a link between childhood trauma and mental health disorders. Childhood trauma can impact you as an adult. If you are struggling with depression, anxiety, substance use, or addiction, you may feel like it’s your fault. You may blame yourself for what happened to you. But more often than not, it’s not your fault.

The experiences you had as a child were traumatic. And trauma affects the brain. Trauma can also cause symptoms that make you feel you are broken. These symptoms can make you feel like you just don’t know how to function. But you have choices. You can heal from these deep wounds and live a full and productive life.

Best wishes!

Helpful Tip

Adult survivors of child abuse may find it helpful to attend self-help groups or read books about managing emotional pain. These groups can provide an outlet for discussing experiences and coping mechanisms, as well as support from others who understand what survivors are going through. These groups can help survivors learn more about their rights and resources.

Adult survivors may also find it helpful to talk about their experiences with someone they trust. This can be a therapist, friend, family member, or other individual who will listen without judgment and offer support. Talking openly about what has happened can help survivors feel less alone and more capable of managing their feelings moving forward.


To learn about how I changed my life for the better and let go of the pain of the past, pick up a copy of my book Choosing to Stop the Madness: Overcoming Toxic Family Patterns. In the book I describe how I ended generations of abuse and unhealthy parenting in my life and for future generations. I can show you how to do the same in yours.

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