Experiences of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse against children continue to affect people’s lives into adulthood. As a result of abuse, deep moral trauma develops, and the consequences of such a parental attitude can be seen as an effect of traumatization. Psychological trauma occurs when the impacting stimulus exceeds the child’s ability to cope with it. Physical injury as a result of parental abuse can be short-term or long-term. The moral trauma left by abusive parents can have long-term consequences.
Unfortunately, child abuse is a common phenomenon in modern society. About 40 percent of children have been victims of parental abuse or witnessed domestic violence (Rivara et al. 1623). The most common types of trauma are physical violence, physical neglect, and emotional abuse, and in most cases, different forms of abuse occur simultaneously (Jung et al. 904). Violence experienced in childhood, first of all, becomes the reason for the development of psycho-emotional problems in adulthood. According to a study by Opel et al., parental abuse significantly increases the chances of young people developing recurrent depression (319). The reason for this can be both unresolved moral trauma and the impact of stress experienced by the child on the brain’s structure, influencing the specifics of the development of depression.
Emotional abuse and neglect are more common than other types of abuse. Still, they are less likely to be detected, as victims are less likely to seek medical attention than patients who experience physical and sexual abuse. Exceptionally prolonged emotional abuse of a child leads to low self-esteem and mood disorders and increases the risk of developing eating disorders. A grown-up child may struggle with the consequences of emotional abuse for the rest of their life.
Another problem that children of abusive parents face is post-traumatic stress disorder. A child with PTSD as an adult may suffer from intrusive memories, nightmares, hallucinations, and a range of accompanying symptoms. PTSD develops in response to ongoing abuse due to the human brain’s defensive response. Attempts to forget traumatic experiences lead to the development of anxiety disorders, depression, and an increased risk of suicide.
Childhood abuse affects physical health: parental abuse shortens their child’s life expectancy. The violence suffered at an early age can provoke the development of cardiovascular diseases and obesity and increase the risk of stroke (Lippard et al. 35). Life expectancy can be significantly reduced due to the high risk of drug and alcohol addiction in children of abusive parents. Abuse creates an unfavorable family environment that the children may try to escape by separating themselves from reality by taking mind-altering substances. Children of abusive parents may project parenting practices onto their families. The perceived pattern of behavior can be consciously or unconsciously projected onto the children of people who experienced emotional or physical abuse. The vicious cycle of abuse can continue if the children of abusive parents do not turn to professionals to work through their moral traumas.
Child abuse is a severe social problem that affects the lives of survivors. Children of abusive parents are more likely to develop recurrent depression and anxiety disorders. Such people are prone to developing alcohol and drug addiction and have higher suicidal risks. Negative consequences develop as a result of constantly experiencing stress. Moreover, children of abusive parents are more likely to perceive the destructive behavior as correct and transfer it to their families. The fight against child abuse should be one of the pillars of contributing to society’s well-being. Control measures may include psychological assistance to abuse victims and efforts to prevent domestic violence by monitoring dysfunctional families.
Jung, Hyunzee, et al. “Gender differences in intimate partner violence: A predictive analysis of IPV by child abuse and domestic violence exposure during early childhood.” Violence against women 25.8 (2019): 903-924.
Lippard, Elizabeth T.C., and Charles B. Nemeroff. “The devastating clinical consequences of child abuse and neglect: increased disease vulnerability and poor treatment response in mood disorders.” American journal of Psychiatry 177.1 (2020): 20-36.
Opel, Nils, et al. “Mediation of the influence of childhood maltreatment on depression relapse by cortical structure: a 2-year longitudinal observational study.” The Lancet Psychiatry 6.4 (2019): 318-326.
Rivara, Frederick, et al. “The effects of violence on health.” Health Affairs 38.10 (2019): 1622- 1629.