Child abuse can take many forms including emotional abuse, psychological abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, ritual abuse, witnessing domestic violence, or exposure to other dangerous or damaging stimuli. Child abuse is particularly devastating in that it occurs during a time when a personís sense of self, the world, and others is forming. Children's physical, emotional, and mental development are often impacted by abuse. Children who are abused may grow up believing that the world is an unsafe place, that no one can be trusted, and that they cannot trust themselves. As adults, survivors of childhood abuse may have difficulty developing and maintaining intimate relationships, trusting others, trusting themselves, feeling safe, and feeling a sense of power over their lives. Furthermore, childhood abuse often impacts a survivor's sleeping patterns, eating habits, and drug and alcohol use. Childhood abuse also frequently results in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) which is characterized by flashbacks or intrusive memories of the abuse, avoidance of thoughts, feelings, people, places or activities which remind them of the abuse, and increased watchfulness of their environment, irritation, etc.
The Center for Traumatic Stress Research specializes in the treatment of childhood abuse. Through the center, survivors receive a special type of cognitive therapy designed to help them recover from the effects of childhood abuse and from PTSD. Survivors are taught skills to monitor and evaluate their thoughts and feelings, and are assisted in processing the emotions they have about the abuse.
Other resources available on the web include:
Governor's Office of Child Abuse and Domestic Violence Services
Friends of the Children
American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC) Homepage
National Center for PTSD (NCP)