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530 S. Lawrence Street | Montgomery, AL  36104
Phone 334.262.7378

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Child Abuse - Effects

Effects of Child Abuse and Neglect

Every child who has experienced abuse or neglect will have their own response to the trauma. While some children have long-lasting effects, others are able to recover quicker and with ease. There is not a right or wrong way for a child to manage effects of the abuse and neglect they have suffered.

What are some factors that can influence children’s responses to trauma?

·         Age

·         Developmental status

·         Type of abuse and/or neglect

·         How often and how long a child was abused

·         Severity of the abuse

·         The relationship between the child and the perpetrator

What are some physical effects of child abuse and neglect?

·         Bruises and welts

·         Scrapes and cuts

·         Burn marks

·         Head trauma

·         Weakened brain development

·         Sprains or broken bones

·         Difficulty walking or sitting

·         Torn, stained, or bloody clothing

·         Pain or itching in the genital area

·         Bruises or bleeding in and around the genital area

·         Sexually transmitted diseases

·         Inappropriate dress

·         Poor hygiene

·         Poor physical health

What are some psychological and mental effects of child abuse and neglect?

·         Anxiety

·         Depression

·         Low self-esteem

·         Withdrawn

·         Dissociation

·         Difficulty with making and maintaining relationships

·         Experiences flashbacks

·         Hypervigilant

·         Persistent fear

What are some behavioral effects of child abuse and neglect?

·         Self-harm

·         Eating disorders

·         Alcohol and drug use

·         Trouble sleeping

·         Uncomfortable with physical contact with others

·         Repeating school grades

·         Absent from school often

·         Criminal activity

What are common effects on children who witness domestic violence?

Whether children witness or experience abuse, it can take a toll on their development. Domestic violence victims are not isolated to intimate partners. Children are at an increased risk for emotional behavioral problems regardless if they were directly abused or not. The effects include:

·         Anxiety

·         Depression

·         Academic problems

·         Fearful

Behaviors by Age

The following behaviors can often be seen in children who have witnessed or experienced domestic violence.


·         physical problems (frequent colds, diarrhea)

·         excessive screaming and irritability

·         problems falling asleep

·         developmental delays (not gaining weight, not eating)

·         anxiety, sadness, crying, emotional withdrawal

AGES 3 — 7

·         delayed language development

·         regression to infant-like behavior such as thumb sucking

·         difficulty getting along with others

·         hostility and aggression

·         defiant and destructive behavior

·         clinging behavior

·         fear

·         self-blaming and feelings of guilt

AGES 7 — 13

·         low self-esteem

·         conflicted feelings about the abuser

·         increased aggression toward peers, siblings and parents

·         shame (denying the violence at home)

·         delinquent behavior (stealing, fighting, using drugs)

AGES 13 — 18

·         patterns of blaming others for his/her behavior, especially parents

·         high levels of anger and anxiety

·         inappropriate belief that violence can be a response to conflict

·         protective behavior toward the victim

·         violence against the victim

·         sense of responsibility for the care of younger siblings

·         running away

·         patterns of truancy

·         substance abuse problems

·         promiscuous behavior


·         increased emotional needs

·         difficulty adjusting to school

·         school phobias (might fear leaving the victim alone)

·         somatic problems (asthma, peptic ulcers, chronic headaches, abdominal cramps)

·         eating disorders

·         patterns of increased deceptiveness (excessive lying, stealing, cheating)

·         inclination to mutilate or kill animals

·         inability to trust and develop relationships

·         low tolerance for frustration

·         self-destructive behavior, self-mutilation

·         memory of every detail of abuse

·         blames the victim for the abuse, pressures him/her to make things better

·         poor sexual image

·         low self-esteem

·         bed wetting

If you need help

Visit ONE PLACE Family Justice Center at 530 S. Lawrence Street, Montgomery, Alabama or call 334.262.7378 or if you are in immediate danger Call 911.


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