Child Abuse

Child abuse often is repeated through generations of a family. Abusive parents grow up with childhood images of themselves as bad, worthless, and unlovable. They may have been labeled a “problem child,” had trouble making friends, been afraid to trust others, or been lonely. Looking for love at any price, they don’t know how to give it themselves or how to cope with the demands of their children.

The effect of abuse on children varies depending on the age of the child, the extent, frequency, and type of abuse, how the child interprets the behavior directed toward him or her, the person’s survival instincts, whether there is a significant other person who provides a positive model, and the reaction of the non-abusive parent. Some abused children exhibit no signs of pain. Others dislike their bodies, which are a reminder of the abuse. It’s common for abused children to distrust others and perhaps run away, to be timid and shy or bold and aggressive in new situations due to a fear and mistrust of others, to experience learning and speech difficulties, to be restless or hyperactive, to perform poorly in groups, to act out sexually or demonstrate knowledge of sex that is inappropriate for their age, or to resort to “caretaker behavior” in which the child is alert to the abuser’s needs and tries to please in order to ward off abuse.