The Effects of Childhood Trauma and Abuse

Published: 2022-04-15
The Effects of Childhood Trauma and Abuse
Type of paper:  Literature review
Categories:  Psychology Child abuse
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1771 words
15 min read


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Childhood trauma has had a negative impact on adults. Adult people are at risk of depression, and traumatic stress disorder and have difficulties in their relationships due to the childhood trauma and abuse. There are negative attitudes among adults that increase their health problems and their psychological well-being. The physical abuse and sexual abuse are the most common forms of childhood trauma experienced. Children witnessing the maternal battering are another form of childhood trauma that affects the adults' mental health, their quality of life and their well-being in the family environment. Single mothers and stepfathers have risen out of the prior child sexual abuse and fear of maintaining their family relationships (Roberts, O'Connor, Dunn, & Golding, 2004). There is poor psychological being, and poor parenting behaviors from the victims of childhood trauma and their effects on the future generations and adults are alarming.

There is a gradual increase in childhood trauma and abuse over the recent years. From most of the research in western industrialized countries, the childhood abuse trauma is about 36% for females (Nurius, Green, Logan-Greene, & Borja, 2015). Similar data have been obtained in both western and non-western countries, and their effects on the psychological well-being of the adults include the physical health is deteriorating (Hovens et al., 2010). In the different studies carried out, the rate of childhood trauma and abuse is linked to the methodology used including the definitions, data collection methods such as interview and survey and the sampling techniques used in the study.

Studies have established that childhood trauma and abuse leads to negative health problems including substance abuse and suicide attempts. The risks and disorders from the trauma and abuse of children such as suicide, anxiety, low self-esteem, and summarization have also increased (Hovens et al., 2012). Adults have obtained the obsessive-compulsive disorders, paranoid ideation, poor eating habits due to the childhood trauma and abuse. There is no or less attention on the difficulties adults are facing on the impaired social functioning arising from the childhood trauma and abuse. This has led to most of them being hospitalized and others ending up dying. The aggression in adolescent and adult relationships has increased hostility hence the poor quality of life and instability in family relationships. This leads to hostility in families and quarrels which may lead to some female children running away from home and getting married at early age. Due to the increased problems and effects, the childhood trauma is having on the adults there is need to find ways to curb these problems by both the society and the government (Lee, Tsenkova, & Carr, 2014).

Causes of childhood trauma and abuse

According to Lee, Tsenkova, and Carr (2014), the children's age and the support given to them by the parents are some of the causes of childhood trauma and abuse. Children with poor parenting and depression have fallen victims of childhood trauma and abuse. Cuomo, Sarchiapone, Giannantonio, Manciniand Roy (2008) established what causes the people to engage in the childhood trauma and abuse. It was found that aggression, depression, drug abuse were among the causes. It was also found that 78.8% of people who abused drugs were involved in the child abuse and trauma. 29.8% of the people engaged in childhood trauma and abuse due to the violent acts introduced in by their peers. Early life history was another cause of childhood trauma. When adults sit down and reflect the past childhood trauma, some are depressed and have the feeling of revenging.

People who were abused were young were found to engage in the childhood trauma and abuse. These have caused higher impulsive levels in adults, worse resilience, and increased hostility and also a higher suicidal risk. Lack of adequate care by the parents leads to traumatization, and it lowers the adult's psychological well-being (van der Hal-van Raalte, Van IJzendoorn, & Bakermans-Kranenburg, 2007). From the growing evidence, stressors early in life have developmental impacts on childhood trauma and abuse. There is also the risk of slow recovery and health issues. Childhood trauma carries a unique experience that impairs adults psychological wellbeing and social disadvantages (Nurius et al., 2015). Children adjustment from one environment also causes childhood trauma and abuse. When parents separate, and children have to move to a new environment, they fall victims of childhood trauma and abuse especially physical and sexual abuse. Most female children have ended up in early marriages and early pregnancies, and this affects them in their adulthood.

The parent-child relationship is another cause of childhood trauma and abuse. Parents' negative relationship with their children led the children to engage in the childhood trauma and abuse (Lee et al., 2014). Some children were reported to run away from home and at one point caught unaware and traumatized. They fall victims of early pregnancies, and they are unable to take care of their families. This results to stepmothers and stepfamilies which are always very difficult to maintain.



The study was to evaluate the existing instruments that measure childhood trauma and the effects of childhood trauma on adults' well-being and quality of life. Individuals were divided into several groups for an interview and the results compared to various parameters on the individuals. 21 individuals were interviewed on various parameters that affect adults wellbeing and on the factors that bring about childhood trauma. 5 of the 21 were found to have experienced sexual abuse and at least each of them having experienced childhood trauma in a lifetime (Roy & Perry, 2004). Also, the study established data from 1209 adult participants in the Netherlands who were interviewed on childhood trauma and the quality of life of adults. Childhood life trauma and abuse were assessed with a structured interview (Hovens et al., 2012). After two years, the adults were interviewed, and the results found that 18.4% the children were abused sexually and 57.8% of any other trauma. Emotional neglect and physical abuse were major occurrences in the childhood trauma. Increased persistence in of chronicity in adults with anxiety and depressive disorders.Sample

A sample of 102 individuals from the society was selected to participate and completed measures of childhood trauma. The social anxiety and depression and their effect on the psychological well-being of the adults were measured. Childhood emotional abuse was the most reported, and the emotional neglect was also reported in large numbers. Sexual abuse and physical abuse was associated with the social anxiety, depression, and self-esteem (Kuo, Goldin, Werner, Heimberg, & Gross, 2011). In other research by Roberts et al. (2004), in a sample size of 9138 individuals of the society, comprising of 9% single mothers (882), 79% biological fathers (7262), 4.6% stepmothers (421) and 7% stepfathers(633), the results on childhood trauma and was found to be 92.8% of the sample size(8480). 3.7% (315) indicated sexual abuse and 96.3% indicated childhood trauma and other childhood abuse including physical abuse. Their effects on the adult's psychological well-being were the enormous and physical health of the adults in the recent years had deteriorated.


In a convenience sample of 203 survivors who completed a questionnaire on several childhood trauma and abuse in research by van der Hal-van Raalte, Van IJzendoorn and Bakermans-Kranenburg (2007), reported that there is an increase in loss of parents during persecution and memories of childhood trauma and abuse affected the present well-being of adults.


Nurius et al. (2015) used data from a population of 13,593 based on health to determine the adverse childhood experiences and their effect on adult mental health. Results established that adults' well-being, psychological distress, and impaired activities resulted from childhood trauma and abuse. The experience of the childhood trauma had a greater impact, and most adults who had this experience were isolated. The stress level in adults with the trauma experience was high leading to hypertension, high blood pressure and a general deterioration in their physical health.


Hovens et al. (2010) examined life course variables on the childhood trauma and abuse and the effects on the psychological well-being of the adults. From the research, it was to be established whether the respondent had ever been abused either sexually or physically. The questions comprised of items on the childhood lifetime, injuries, and accidents. For sexual assault, mothers' age was collected during pregnancy. It was reported that most parents were physically cruel to their children up to the age of 17. This reduced the quality of life of their children as the family relationship has gone a level down. As a result, this affects their future lives up to adulthood. They then have poor family relationships and end up in stepfamilies

Weissbecker, Floyd, Dedert, Salmon, and Sephton (2006), researched the education attainment level. From the research, educational attainment level was measured on a 5 point scale. It was found that those individuals with qualification ranging from 1 point to 2 were mostly involved childhood trauma or any other abuse. Less or no individuals with 4 points in the educational attainment level were those who never experienced the childhood trauma. Most of the educated adults have not fallen victims physical health and have a quality life, and their psychological well-being is well established.

Findings and Conclusion

These findings converge with evidence of childhood trauma and abuse. Children witnessed or were victims of domestic violence but kept secret. However, from the information obtained from research of several scholars, there are various long-term effects on the wellbeing and psychological behavior health and social problems in adults. The results of the findings also confirm the parenting problems and the relationship difficulties between parents and children as the causes of childhood trauma and abuse.

The studies found out the numerous effects of childhood trauma and abuse experience both on the quality of life and psychological well-being of adults. The physical health of parents was found to be the most crucial one. This was due to stress which has a greater impact on the cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, and asthma. Obesity and abnormalities were found to be other effects of stress in adults due to childhood trauma. The substance abuse and use of drugs such as alcohol and other illicit drugs increased the effects of childhood trauma and abuses in adults.

Another finding which showed that relationship between parents and children had an impact on the childhood trauma and abuse. The negative relationship led to early intercourse, promiscuity and sexual dissatisfaction in adults. Early stressors and experience of trauma caused long-term changes in the life of adults.

Also, the studies found out that family type had a potential impact on the quality of life and psychological well-being of adults. Most children are experiencing the childhood trauma, and abuse is from families living in a non-traditional way. Families with stepfathers or single mothers have had a greater negative impact. Female children from such families always have a hard time in choosing a life partner from history. They also have difficulties in rearing their children due to...

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The Effects of Childhood Trauma and Abuse. (2022, Apr 15). Retrieved from

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