Child abuse is the mental or physical pain intentionally inflicted on a person who is unable to defend themselves is abuse.  The World Health Organization reports that every year more than 3.6 million referrals are made to child protection agencies.  The reports involve more than 6.6 million children for child abuse. This appalling statistic ranks the United States as having one of the worst records of child abuse among industrialized nations. The children who have suffered child abuse grow into adults with emotional and social problems. This blog sets out to identify the emotional manifestations of child abuse in adults and empower you to get the help.

Child abuse protective stances

Children view abuse in a self-centered point of view and make a subconscious decision to stop the abuse.

  • The child sees the world as unsafe and so the child stops trusting people.
  • The child feels he or she can only depend on themselves.
  • The child develops poor self- confidence.
  • The child becomes hypervigilant, irritable, angry and anxious.

The subconscious protective measures were taken by a child who suffers child abuse help him or her navigate through childhood into adulthood. When there is no intervention to teach the child the world is a safe place the child brings these protective stances into adulthood.

The adult who suffered child abuse

Some of the emotional manifestations in the adult who suffered child abuse are:

  • The adult lacks true intimacy in relationships.
  • The adult is chronically depressed.
  • The adult may find that they are anxious.
  • It is normal for the adult who has suffered child abuse to feel like they are at war with the world.

According to ChildWelfare, child abuse can also lead to problems in an adult which may include psychological consequences such as low self-esteem, problems maintaining healthy relationships, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, explosive anger, suicide attempts, and social disabilities, to name a few.

Overcoming the effects of child abuse

It takes courage to let go of things that have hurt you.  It is important that you know you have everything in you right now to heal from your hurt and move forward in your strength.  Overcoming the effects of child abuse builds strength. Overcoming pain builds resistance. Overcoming rejection builds resourcefulness. Letting go of the memories of child abuse isn’t easy. The effects of child abuse seeped into almost every facet of your life.  Recognize the limitations of the defense mechanisms you used as a child as this helps you to separate yourself from the child who needed protection and recognize yourself as an adult in control.  Get closure by telling your story, confronting the person/s who hurt you. Whether the person is alive or not, or even open for a conversation you can confront the person by writing a letter expressing your pain. Include in the letter how the abuse has affected you over the years. ***Warning***this can be painful because you are rehashing memories you have tried to let go. This can be painful because the abuser may be someone you love and they may not be receptive or apologetic. This leads to an important step in overcoming the hurt of childhood abuse: GET HELP AND SUPPORT you never got as a child.

This is not a simple task. I lived with the pain of sexual abuse most of my adult life. I experienced depression, anxiety, low esteem, inability to form healthy male female relationships and worst I did not know my worth. With the help of my loving friends and family and a relationship with God, I am able to say I AM A SURVIVOR. I am no longer imprisoned by my past; rather I am strengthened by my experiences. I hope this blog empowers you to take the next step to healing. You took your first step by reading this blog.

Resource for finding a therapist

Mental Health America

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It's Brittani & Adenike (a.k.a. Nikki), we hope you are enjoying our blog. We are just two sisters sharing our experiences in order to encourage other women who have experienced depression. We'd love to stay in touch. Join our email list for our latest advice and exclusive resources. 

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