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What effects do childhood abuse have on a young adult?

By Anonymous March 9, 2009 - 2:37pm
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I can certainly share a personal story on this note. I come from a very abusive childhood with a physically and emotionally abusive father. I am now almost 32 years old and very clearly show signs of past abuse.

Most of my issues stem directly in relationships with men. I have a ton of friends: male and female. When it comes to relationships is when I notice things the most. Once one small thing happens in a relationship that causes me to distrust a person, a wall so tall and thick grows around me that no one can break down. It takes a large Army to knock down one brick.

If I see a daughter with their father and there is a connection between the two of them, I am instantly uncomfortable. If a man, (in a father figure role) asks me questions about myself, I am completely uncomfortable and want to say, “It's none of your business.”

There is a huge problem in the relationship field. I cannot let myself fully fall for someone. I get stuck in a place that I am very uncomfortable and always holding back. It is the worst feeling. It is horrible when you really feel like you love someone but cannot open yourself fully to that person because of fear of failure and fear of being hurt. Not that someone will hit you or character assassinate you but the feeling that they will let you down.

I thought for many years, I was okay with what happened to me and my family growing up, but it is clearly not the case. I am a bit broken. I recently thought about seeking counseling for this especially since there is a very nice guy that came into my life and I want something out of it. I hate the idea that I would treat him badly for my own past that seems to haunt me every time I get close to someone.

If I can share any advise, go and seek counseling. Whether you know it or not, there is an underlying reason that you asked this question and why you feel the way you do. Sometimes it is out of our physical control and it is okay. There is an answer and a light at the end of the tunnel. We are here for you every step of the way.

March 14, 2009 - 2:25pm

Dear Anon, you have posed a very good question and I hope I can add to Michelle and Tina's postings. Children who experience child abuse are more susceptible to developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or other conditions which are many times undiagnosed or undetected by our healthcare system. PTSD is the result of experiencing traumatic events which could carry over from abusive home environments into adulthood. We have learned to limit the scope of PTSD to people returning from war. There is plenty of evidence that indicates other population segments may also be experiencing this condition including young adults who were faced with many traumatic events growing up including verbal, sexual and other types of emotional or physical abuse are also easy target for developing PTSD. Many victims will display the scars of childhood wounds later in life but some will present with high resilience to the effects of abuse. There is data that indicate that genetics may play a role on resilience or susceptibility. Some adults grow immune to the effects of abuse but many are not able to cope well and will begin to "act out" those traumatic events through different manifestations including: physical illness, social withdrawl, anxiety or panic disorder, violent behaviors, insomnia, self-destructing behaviors, etc.

Depending on what the young adult is experiencing, I would suggest professional help and consideration of complementary modalities such as EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), meditation, healthy nutrition (to balance out stress related symptoms that effect body chemistry and emotional health. Consider also hypnosis guided imagery, and other relaxation techniques that can influence changes in thought pattern. Thoughts are energy and as such they can influence the overall health and wellbeing, learning to work at changing negative thoughts and practicing gratitute, forgiveness and self-care can have a positive effect by healing the wounds of the past.

Here is a good book that I found interesting and helpful: "Bad Childhood, Good Life" by Dr Laura Schlessinger

Wish you well.

March 9, 2009 - 10:38pm

Hi anon, Thanks so much for writing. Dr. J. Patrick Gannon with Texas Woman's University says adults who were abused as children can experience something called survivor's syndrome and includes the following symptoms:

* Symptoms of Trauma--feelings of fear, panic, agitation, anxiety, numbing of bodily areas, nightmares, multiple personalities, feelings of being disconnected from body;

* Physical Ailments--includes psychosomatic illnesses, stomach aches, eating disorders, skin disorders, asthma, headaches and phobias;

* Social Alienation--feeling different from others, not accepted, stigmatized;

* Difficulty in Handling Feelings--trouble in recognizing, managing and appropriately expressing feelings;

* Relationship Problems--fighting, blaming, mistrusting, poor communication skills and difficulty with intimacy;

* Low Self Esteem--self doubt, self blame, shame;

* Self Sabotage--self destructive or self mutilating behavior; and

* Sexual Problems--sexual inhibition or promiscuity, flashbacks to abusive experiences during sexual contact, inability to achieve orgasm, pain or numbing during intimacy.

And while some adults may experience these symptoms, there are a number of methods to overcome or ease the symptoms that include reading, support groups or counseling.

Also, keep in mind that some adults who experienced abuse do not experience any symptoms.

Did you experience abuse as a child? Are you advocating for a friend or family members?

March 9, 2009 - 3:01pm
Expert HERWriter

I'm so sorry you are even having to ask this question. My hunch is your asking this for a reason.

There are many effects.... From mental health to physical health. There's so much that I think I'm going to let the moderators help me with this one.

I would love to know more so I can direct you where I think you need to go. But I don't want to pry. If you do feel like sharing more, please go to my section on the site and it won't be posted anywhere. It goes directly to me.

Anything we can do to help you, we will.

Virtual hugs to you,


March 9, 2009 - 2:56pm
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