The consequences of childhood abuse

Swea Jelić Tuščić, Gordana Buljan Flander, Dragana Matešković


The purpose of this article is to provide all experts working with children, as well as the public in general, with a summary of both the health and psychosocial consequences of child abuse in order to enhance recognition of this problem. The authors have focused in this article on the three most dominant forms of abuse: physical, sexual and emotional abuse. An overview of both the short-term and long-term consequences has been provided, for each form of abuse and in general. The consequences of child abuse are severe and numerous. When compared to their nonabused counterparts, people with a history of child abuse show a larger number of psychopathological problems, most commonly depression, anxiety and PTSD, and more frequent somatic complaints. They have weaker interpersonal, communicational and coping skills and are more vulnerable to stress. They also show difficulties in emotional regulation, tend to adopt a risky lifestyle and show higher levels of aggression, delinquency and criminal behaviour. Children exposed to multiple abuse, i.e. those who experience more than one form of abuse, are a special concern, since the negative effects of each form of abuse are not merely cumulative but also co-interfere, worsening the already harmful effects of child abuse.

Conclusion - This summary aids a better understanding of the psychophysical and psychosocial functioning of child abuse victims and is useful to anyone who deals with child abuse in their professional or everyday life.


Physical; Sexual; Emotional; Child abuse; Consequences

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