Childhood Abuse

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines child abuse and child maltreatment as "all forms of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to the child's health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power."

Emotional or Psychological

The American Psychological Association defines emotional abuse as "non-accidental verbal or symbolic acts by a child's parent or caregiver that result, or have reasonable potential to result, in significant psychological harm to the child."

Long term effects of emotional/psychological abuse can include (but are not limited to):

  • Depression
  • Withdrawal
  • Low-self esteem
  • Emotional instability 
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Physical pain without cause
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts
  • Dependence on the abuser
  • Underachievement
  • Inability to trust
  • Feeling trapped and alone
  • Addictions and substance use
  • Attachment issues
  • Self-blame
  • Passivity 

These and other concerns can be addressed in therapy.

Physical

The WHO defines physical abuse as the "intentional use of physical force against the child that results in – or has a high likelihood of resulting in – harm for the child's health, survival, development or dignity. This includes hitting, beating, kicking, shaking, biting, strangling, scalding, burning, poisoning and suffocating. Much physical violence against children in the home is inflicted with the object of punishing."

Psychological and emotional effects of physical abuse can include (but are not limited to):

  • Eating disorders
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Re-victimization
  • Personality Disorders
  • Excessive hostility or aggression that effects ability to connect with others
  • Depression
  • Lack of energy/tired
  • Loss of enjoyment
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Dissociative disorders
  • Anxiety
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts
  • Addictions and substance use
  • Homelessness 

These and other concerns can be addressed in therapy.

Sexual

Childhood sexual abuse occurs when an adult or older adolescent forces the child to engage in sexual stimulation.  This can include asking or pressuring the child to engage in sexual contact with the child, exposing genitals to child, forcing child to watch pornography, viewing or touching child's genitals, or producing child pornography. 

The long-term effects of childhood sexual abuse can include (but are not limited to): 

  • Guilt
  • Self-blame
  • Flashbacks and nightmares
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Low self-esteem
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Chronic pain
  • Addiction or Substance use
  • Self-injury
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts 
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Borderline Personality
  • Eating disorders 

These and other concerns can be addressed in therapy.

Neglect

Childhood neglect occurs when a caregiver fails to supply basic needs such as food, clothing, shelter, medical care, supervision, emotional support, and eduction to the degree that the child's health, safety, or well-being may be harmed.

The long-term effects of childhood sexual abuse can include (but are not limited to): 

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Dissociation
  • Difficulty concentrating 
  • Academic problems
  • Withdrawing
  • Flashbacks
  • Hyper-vigilance
  • Sleep disturbances 

These and other concerns can be addressed in therapy.