Data shows that no matter how much time has passed, untreated childhood abuse can hamper a person’s ability to build healty relationships later in life.
Trust and Intimacy
According to Adults Surviving Child Abuse, many survivors of childhood abuse claim to have trouble building meaningful relationship and report feeling emotions or reactions that they do not fully understand when moving into a new relationship.
In the majority of child abuse cases, the perpetrators of the abuse were the same adults that were supposed to protect, nurture, and love the child. As a result, survivors can often find it difficult to trust others leading to issues with intimacy and emotional closeness and feelings of detachment.
A study of child abuse survivors conducted in Australia found that individuals who had been abused as children experienced significantly higher rates of failed relationships and marriages, and as a whole reported lower levels of social interaction, than adults who were not abused.
Cycles of Abuse
Everyday Health reports that victims of child abuse or neglect are also more likely to become abusers themselves, estimating that one-third of abused and neglected children will act out abuse behavior when they become adults.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, victims of childhood abuse may also become stuck in a cycle called “repetition compulsion.” This is a pattern in which a victim of past abuse finds themselves reliving the abuse.
This can result in an abuse survivor subconsciously seeking partners with the same traits as the perpetrator of their previous abuse and blaming their own behaviors when they are re-victimized.
In order to ensure these cycles are broken before they begin to manifest, it is essential that victims of child abuse seek professional help and support. Data has shown that simply acknowledging and understanding the psychological effects of child abuse can greatly improve a survivors ability to build and maintain healthy, lasting relationships.