We Are Survivors 

This blog is dedicated to the tens of millions of adult survivors of child abuse and neglect who get up every day and try to work and function in a world that seems to not care about us.

Child Maltreatment and Unemployment

A study was conducted by David Zielinski, Ph.D. at NIMH which showed that the long-term impacts of childhood maltreatment include higher rates of unemployment, poverty, and use of social services in adulthood.1 He evaluated data on childhood maltreatment and socioeconomic wellbeing from the NIMH-funded National Comorbidity Survey (NCS) which was the first study to estimate the prevalence of mental disorders (using modern psychiatric standards) in a representative sample of the general U.S. population.

His study concluded what we, as adult survivors, already knowthat having a history of physical, sexual abuse or neglect as children significantly means it is more likely survivors will be unemployed and use social service more than people without a history of child maltreatment.

Dr. Zielinski also stated his study showed that child maltreatment was linked to lower rates of healthcare coverage (which most survivors can’t afford anyway). He, like other researchers, continue to make sure they document the relevance of his findings as it relates to people living in poverty, as if child abuse is not as pervasive in families with higher incomes. For example, a review of this study in Science Update on October 15, 2009 states:

“Not only does the public share the burden in supporting maltreatment-related social services—such as child welfare services—but also those related to unemployment insurance, poverty-based public assistance, and publicly funded health insurance such as Medicaid.”

Just once, I’d like a study to document the cost to society of child maltreatment perpetuated by those with higher incomes, but that won’t happen because the resources they have available such as money for the best medical care and to hire lawyers to sue for wrongful employment discharge, keep these studies out of the public eye.


Here are more statistics about the extent of this problem:

  • The unemployment rate for individuals with psychiatric disabilities is 80-90%.2
  • Survivors of childhood sexual abuse have 3.5 times more learning disabilities than non-abused women.3

I think it is great this study was done. What would be greater would be to bring the issue of child abuse and neglect to the attention of legislators and for them to actually pay attention to this humanitarian crisis.

1 “History of Childhood Maltreatment Linked to Higher Rates of Employment and Poverty,” David Zielinski, Ph.D., Child Abuse and Neglect, October 8, 2009

2 Supported Employment for Persons With Psychiatric Disabilities: A Review of Effective Services, National Mental Health Association, The PDF can be downloaded by clicking here

3 Springs, Fern E., and William N. Friedrich, Health Risk Behaviors and Medical Sequelae of Child Sexual Abuse. In 67 Mayo Clinic Proceedings (1992): 527-532.


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