Effects of Parental
Abuse on Children
Mental, physical, and sexual abuse from parents
happens to “one in four children” (Child abuse and Neglect: Consequences).
That’s thousands of children being abused daily, not to mention the ones who
have already become adults. The abuse that children endure can have many
debilitating effects on the remainder of their life. The type of abuse, along
with the child’s gender, contributes to the effects that can develop, which
include: an increased chance of suffering from diseases; increased chance of
drug use, risky sexual behavior, mental and physical health problems; and finally,
an increased risk of criminal behavior or becoming homeless.
Children who are subjected to violence from
parents can develop many different physical and mental health disorders. Those
who have experienced various forms of abuse are more likely to have major
depressive disorder and psychiatric disorders. Evidence proves that child abuse
can be associated with attempted suicide in teens. In fact, even the exposure
to abuse during childhood increases a person’s chance of attempting suicide. Another
common health problem among adult survivors is obesity and eating disorders.
“Both child sexual abuse and physical abuse were associated with a doubling of
the odds of obesity in middle-aged women” (Effects of Child Abuse and Neglect
for Adult Survivors). These examples are only a portion of the disorders that
can stem from experiencing or witnessing abuse as a child.
Other problems that can arise for someone
who experienced mistreatment from a parent is an increased chance for alcohol
and substance abuse, as well as risky sexual behavior, and debilitating
physical health problems. While both men and women’s chances of substance abuse
increases following a history of mistreatment, women are affected more
strongly. The use of alcohol and substance abuse may be due to victims feeling
they need to self-medicate. Another effect that arises is risky sexual
behavior. This can lead to unplanned pregnancy and a wide range of sexually
transmitted diseases. There is also an increased likelihood of sexual abuse
victims getting involved in prostitution. One source “determined that factors
that may increase the likelihood of engaging in risky sexual behaviors include:
the inability to be assertive and prevent unwanted sexual advances, feeling
unworthy, and having competing needs for affection and acceptance” (Effects of
Child Abuse and Neglect for Adult Survivors). One aspect of this is the
tendency for victims, especially female, to revictimize themselves. This
results in abusive relationships and the tendency to never escape them. Another
devastating effect that stems from early abuse is physical health problems.
Head trauma, for example, can cause death; but also, visual, motor, and
cognitive impairment. These are things that could potentially affect someone
for the entirety of their life.
Another effect of childhood mistreatment is an
increased chance for criminal behavior, violence, and homelessness. “Adults
with a history of abuse and neglect had a higher likelihood of arrests, adult
criminality, and violent criminal behavior” (Effects of Child Abuse and Neglect
for Adult Survivors). This also bleeds into spousal abuse; something that may
seem normal or is a learned behavior from a negative environment. Homelessness
is also related to having an adverse home environment. This is contributed to
the fact that if a child is experiencing abuse or neglect, they will have
poorer academic achievement, resulting in difficulty finding a job.