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How Child Neglect and Abuse Affects Adults Later in Life

The topic of child abuse and how it affects people as they grow older has been at the forefront of conversation for years. The way in which a child perceives and acts upon neglect and abuse can be direct or indirect. This means that the child may or may not have been aware of the neglect or abuse they were experiencing at the time. Because of this, it can have long-term effects on someone’s mental, emotional, and physical health. 

If you’ve noticed a loved one or significant other undergoing a change in their attitude or health, it is important to make note of the signs and determine if they are dealing with abuse from their childhood. We dissect the types of neglect and abuse and how the effects play out. 

How Childhood Abuse and Neglect Manifests Later in Life

Child abuse and neglect are defined by any behavior caused by a parent, caregiver, or guardian that poses the risk of causing physical or emotional harm to a child. Defining and understanding child abuse and neglect has been on the rise in the past couple of years because more and more adults are coming to realize the amount of abuse and neglect they experienced without immediately understanding what happened and how it affected them. The main types of child abuse and neglect are categorized as physical, emotional, and witnessing violence. 

Physically 

A person’s physical health can plummet if they’ve experienced child abuse. As people grow older, they may find themselves having a difficult time understanding what they are feeling, therefore they will seek unhealthy methods of acting on their emotions. Some are prone to drinking or smoking. Some of these individuals make up more of the adult population that utilize health care services. The stress and trauma from childhood abuse and neglect can play out in one’s body, potentially resulting in the risk of disease and contracting other physical problems. 

Psychologically

Besides affecting physical health, childhood abuse and neglect are shown to have psychological effects as well. Studies show that those who have experienced abuse and neglect at an early age have a harder time learning, forming, and maintaining attachments and relationships. Mental health takes a hit as well, so depression, anxiety, and stress are likely to be in the picture. Victims are also known to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. As such, they might find themselves scared of what they once experienced or went through. 

Behaviorally

A drastic change in behavior can take place at some point(s) in someone’s life if they experienced childhood abuse or neglect. Oftentimes, as victims grow older, they will pick up damaging and unhealthy habits such as substance abuse or finding themselves in legal trouble. Victims feel more compelled to act out in response to a misunderstanding of what they felt, what they went through, and how it still affects them as adults. This is not always the case, but it can happen and is seen more often in individuals who have dealt with this abuse. 

How Abuse Can Be Passed Through Generations 

People who have suffered from child abuse or neglect are more inclined to pass certain behaviors to their families. Although uncommon, it can happen. It is more targeted to those who experienced a great deal of physical abuse as children. These same individuals are more likely to engage in those same abusive behaviors with their own children. This is because individuals make attachments to what they fear, which is also all that they knew at one point in their life, and recreate these behaviors. 

Reliving the Past 

Since childhood abuse and neglect can be traumatic, victims might find themselves experiencing exactly what they felt before, just in a new and different situation. This is more common in women. Women who suffered from physical abuse as children might find themselves reliving exactly what they felt because situations may be similar or bring back memories from long ago. Because of this, these same individuals will believe that these behaviors are normal and are okay to deal with. 

Work Towards Healing and Hope with Latinx Talk Therapy 

At Latinx Talk Therapy, we’ve been able to help many people, including those who have suffered from child abuse and neglect. If you or a loved one are experiencing the physical and emotional ramifications of abuse and neglect, then we’re here to help. Together, we’ll face your struggles head-on and working together to overcome them. When we set a goal, we’ll help you reach it. Contact us to get started with our talk therapy services!

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