What Are the Effects of Child Abuse?

The effects of child abuse are numerous and long-lasting, though they differ from person to person. When a person has been abused as a child, he may suffer from sadness, fear, shame, and guilt. He may also have difficulty trusting others and developing healthy relationships. Sometimes people who have been abused as children grow up feeling as if it is their job to please others. Sadly, an individual who has been abused as a child may also engage in self-destructive behaviors, develop physical or psychological conditions related to the abuse, or suffer from low self-esteem.

When a child is abused, the effects often prove serious and long-lasting. In fact, the potential effects of child abuse are too many to list. They may begin when the victim is a child and remain in varying degrees throughout his lifetime. It is important to note that the effects of child abuse may differ from person to person. For example, the effects may primarily involve aggressive behavior in one person while another victim may prove more likely to engage in behaviors that are self-destructive or develop illnesses and conditions that stem from the abuse.


Among the most common effects of child abuse are changes in the way a person sees himself and others. In many cases, a child abuse victim suffers from low self-esteem. He may see himself as less important than others and sometimes even believe that he caused or deserved the abuse. An individual who has been abused may also develop a mistrust of others, including those who have not mistreated him.

Some people who have been victims of child abuse have difficulty developing and maintaining healthy relationships. Sometimes they push others away before they can become emotionally attached; in other cases they seem to choose relationships with people who will abuse them further. Additionally, some child abuse victims grow up to become abusers themselves.

Often, child abuse victims also engage in behaviors that harm them. For example, a child may self-inflict wounds while an adult may abuse drugs or alcohol. Some also engage in risky behavior sexually or neglect their personal needs. Child abuse victims of varying ages may attempt suicide as well.

The effects of child abuse are sometimes physical in nature. For example, a person may develop stomachaches or unexplained aches and pains as the result of child abuse. Sometimes a child abuse victim may also develop an eating disorder. Additionally, child abuse victims may suffer from depressed immune systems or conditions that affect the cardiovascular system.



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