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.

National Scope of Child Abuse - Part 1

It is important to provide the devastating effects of child abuse and neglect because the only thing we hear about in the media are the staggering statistics about physical illnesses in all their forms. This series provides a broad overview of what millions of children and adults have to cope with because of parental/caretaker abuse.

Incidence Rate

  • One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually assaulted before the age of eighteen.[1]
  • The rate of child abuse and neglect is 10 times as high (40 children per 1,000 children per year) as the incidence rate for all forms of cancer (3.9 individuals per thousand individuals per year).[2]
  • Children in the age group of birth to 1 year had the highest rate of victimization (24.4 children per 1,000 children in 2006) of the same age group in the national population.[3]
  • 80% of perpetrators are the parents.[4]

Physical Wellbeing

  • Abdominal/Thoracic Injuries: Pediatric blunt chest and abdominal trauma is the second leading cause of fatal child abuse with a 40-50% mortality rate.[5]
  • Brain Injuries: Brain injury is the leading cause of death in abused children.[6]
  • Central Nervous Injuries:
    • When experienced in childhood, trauma produces neurobiological impacts on the brain, causing dysfunction in the hippocampus, amygdala, medical prefrontal cortex, and other limbic structures.[7]
    • A history of child abuse or neglect can lower a person’s overall immunity and ability to manage stress, and that this effect may be long-lasting.[8]
  • Disability: The National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect (NCCAN) estimated that the incidence of disabilities caused by or likely to be caused by physical abuse was 147 per 1,000 maltreated children. [9]
  • Fractures/Head Injuries:
    • Orofacial trauma occurs in at least 50% of children diagnosed with physical abuse. [10]
    • 95% of serious intracranial injuries and 64% of all head injuries in infants younger than 1 year were attributable to child abuse. [11]
  • Ocular Damage: Retinal and vitreous hemorrhages and non-hemorrhagic changes, including retinal folds and traumatic retinoschisis, are characteristic of shaken baby syndrome. Mortality rates range from 15-38%among infant victims of shaken baby syndrome. [12]

Sexual and Reproductive

  • Psychogenic Infertility (Relationship between psychological factors and infertility): Approximately 10% of the infertile population may be affected. [13]
  • Reproductive Health Problems:
    • Sexual abuse during childhood is associated with high-risk behaviors later in life, including alcohol and drug use, early consensual sexual experience, and a high number of partners. [14]
    • More than 32,000 pregnancies yearly are estimated to result from rape, mostly in adolescents. [15]
    • Unwanted/Teenage Pregnancy: 62% of pregnant and parenting female adolescents were found to have experienced molestation, attempted rape or rape prior to their first pregnancy. [16]

Sexual Dysfunction

  • 79% of incest survivors report feelings of fear, mistrust, hostility, and a sense of betrayal in their relationships with men. [17]
  • 87% of a clinical sample of adults molested as children had “serious” sexual problems, as opposed to 20% of those clients without a sexual abuse history. [18]

Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Including HIV/AIDS

  • Abused boys and girls are more likely to have intercourse at earlier ages and have more sexual partners than their peers. These behaviors put them at risk for acquiring sexually transmitted infections (STIs), becoming pregnant, or getting someone pregnant. [19]




[1] National Child Traumatic Stress Network, http://nctsn.org/nctsn_assets/pdfs/caring/ChildSexualAbuseFactSheet.pdf

[2] Child Welfare League of America, “Testimony submitted to the House Subcommittee on Select Education of the

Committee on Education and the Workforce for the hearing on CAPTA: Successes and Failures at Preventing

Child Abuse, August 2, 2001.

[3] HHS Releases National Statistics on Child Abuse and Neglect for 2006, U.S. Department of Health and Human

Services, Child Maltreatment 2006

[4] http://www.safehorizon.org/page/child-abuse-facts-56.html

[5] Understanding the Medical Diagnosis of Child Maltreatment: A Guide for Nonmedical Professionals, By

Charmain Brittain, Edition: 3, Illustrated, Published by Oxford University Press US, 2006.

[6] JAMA, Vol. 290 No. 5, August 6, 2003.

[7] Neuroimaging findings in post-traumatic stress disorder, Hull, A., British Journal of Psychiatry, 181, 102-110,


[8] Shirtcliff EA, Coe CL, Pollak SD. Early childhood stress is associated with elevated antibody levels to herpes

simplex virus type 1, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences U.S.A., 2009 Feb 24; 106(8): 2963-7.

PMID: 10188604.

[9] National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System: 1991 Summary Data Component. Washington, DC: Government  

Printing Office; 1993. Working Paper 2.

[10] Cairns AM, Mok JYQ, Welbury RR. Injuries to the head, face, mouth and neck in physically abused children in a

   community setting. In J Paediatr Dent 2005; 15:310-318.

[11] Billmire ME, Myers PA, Serious head injury in infants: accident or abuse? Pediatrics 1985’ 75:340-342.

[12] Alexander R., Sato Y, Smith W, Bennett T, Incidence of trauma with cranial injuries ascribed to shaking. Am J

   Dis Child 1990; 144:724-726.

[13] Reproduction, Ethics, and the Law: Feminist Perspectives, By Joan C. Callahan, Published by Indiana University

   Press, 1995.

[14] Fergusson DM, Horwood LJ, Lynskey MT. Childhood sexual abuse, adolescent sexual behaviors and sexual

   revictimization. Child Abuse Neglect 1997; 21: 789-803.

[15] Holmes M, Resnick SH, Kilpatrick DF, Best CL. Rape-related pregnancy: estimates and descriptive

   characteristics from a national sample of women. Am J Obstet Gynecol 1996; 175: 320-24.

[16] Sexual Abuse as a Factor in Adolescent Pregnancy and Child Maltreatment, Boyer, Debra, & Fine, David, Family

   Planning Perspectives, January 1992.

[17] Courtois, C.A. (1979), The incest experience and its aftermath. Victimology: An International Journal, 4, 337-347

[18] Meiselman, K.C. Incest: A psychological study of causes and effects with treatment recommendations. San

   Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1978.

[19] Saewyc, EM; Magee, LL; Pettingell, SE. Teenage pregnancy and associated risk behaviors among sexually

   abused adolescents. Perspective of Sexual Reproductive Health. 2004; 36:98-105.

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National Scope of Child Abuse - Part 2


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