Child abuse is a traumatic experience that can have lifelong effects on survivors’ mental health and well-being. As a result, adult survivors of child abuse often struggle with mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Continue reading to learn about the impact of child abuse on mental health and the challenges adult survivors face in seeking treatment.
Child Abuse and Mental Health
Child abuse can take many forms, including physical, sexual, emotional, and neglect. According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately one in four adults worldwide report experiencing child abuse during their lifetime. The impact of child abuse on mental health can be severe and long-lasting. Studies have found that survivors of child abuse are more likely to experience mental health issues.
Challenges in Seeking Treatment
Despite the high prevalence of mental health issues among survivors of child abuse, many face significant challenges in seeking treatment. One of the primary challenges is stigma. Survivors of child abuse may feel shame, self-blame, or embarrassment about their experiences, making them reluctant to seek help. Additionally, survivors may fear being judged or not being taken seriously by mental health professionals.
Another challenge is the impact of the abuse on the survivor’s ability to seek treatment. Adult survivors of child abuse may have difficulty trusting others, including mental health professionals, due to their experiences.
Finally, access to mental health care can also be a challenge for survivors who may not have adequate health insurance or the financial resources to pay for mental health treatment. Even for those with access to care, finding a therapist or a mental health professional trained in treating survivors of child abuse can be challenging.
The effects of childhood abuse can be long-lasting, but effective treatment options are available for adult survivors of child abuse. Therapy is one of the most effective treatments, and several types of therapy are shown to be effective in treating the mental health issues associated with childhood abuse.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) focuses on changing negative thinking and behavior patterns. CBT can treat depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other mental health disorders. It’s a structured, short-term therapy that typically lasts 12-16 weeks.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing is specifically designed to treat PTSD. It involves a combination of talk therapy and visual stimulation, like moving your eyes back and forth or tapping your hands. EMDR is an effective PTSD treatment for adult survivors of child abuse.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
Dialectical behavior therapy is designed to help people regulate their emotions and improve their interpersonal relationships. DBT can treat multiple mental health disorders, including PTSD, borderline personality disorder, and substance abuse disorders.
Group therapy is another effective treatment option for adult survivors of child abuse. It provides a safe and supportive environment where survivors can connect with others who have experienced similar trauma. It can be especially beneficial for those who feel isolated and alone.
In addition to therapy, medication can also be helpful in treating mental health issues. Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications can be particularly effective in treating symptoms of depression and anxiety. However, medication should be used in conjunction with therapy, as it doesn’t address the underlying issues that may be affecting a person’s mental health.
There are also several self-care strategies that adult survivors of child abuse can use to improve their mental health. For example, practicing mindfulness, exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, and avoiding drugs and alcohol, which can exacerbate the problem.
Finally, support groups, like EndCAN’s survivor community group, Louder Than Silence, through Inspire, can be an excellent resource for survivors of child abuse. It’s a free online community where you can feel safe and be authentic while anonymously sharing your experiences and learning from others who have “been there.”
Help Us End Child Abuse and Neglect
If you’re an adult child abuse survivor, EndCAN is always here for you with valuable resources, including information and tips about parenting and support to help you learn and heal.
Don’t suffer in silence. Breaking the silence is one way we can stop child abuse. When you’re ready, share your story, so other adult survivors of child abuse know they’re not alone either. Your generous contribution can help us provide support and help adult survivors of child abuse heal.