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Trauma Due to Child Abuse: Emotional or Physical

Child abuse or neglect

Violence or emotional abuse

Teen Trauma Due to Child Abuse by Parent or Caretaker

Trauma Related to Violence, Physical or Emotional Abuse: Statistics, Advice, and More for Parents, Teens, and Onlookers

Statistics, advice and more for parents, teens and onlookers.   Learn the signs and what you can do to help a child or teen who is being or was abused by a relative or caregiver. 

Traumatic experiences during the teen years can set the stage for a number of emotional, behavioral challenges. Sometimes, the highest form of emotional trauma stems from either physical or emotional abuse at the hands of a parent, caregiver, or parent or caregiver’s partner. 

Even though younger children under the age of one may be most vulnerable to instances of abuse, teens can become victims just the same. Twelve per 1,000 of all reported maltreatment cases in 2017 involved victims between the ages of 12 and 17 years old. The scope of the problem is huge but grossly underreported with older children who may be less likely to speak up or may not get direct attention from family members, educators, or otherwise. 

Child Abuse by the Numbers — An Eye-Opening Look

The National Children’s Alliance and Department of Human Services offer an alarming look at the numbers associated with child abuse and neglect in the United States. 

  • Almost 700,000 (1 of 100) children under the age of 18 are found to be abused annually in the U.S. 
  • Child welfare services perform investigations on the safety of nearly 3.5 million children per year
  • In 2019, at least 1,840 children lost their lives as a result of abuse or neglect 
  • 78% of child abuse cases involve victimization by a mother, father, or caregiver 

1 of 100 children is abused

Among all substantiated cases in 2019, 84.5 percent of abused children were mistreated in only one way; more than 15 percent sustained at least two types of abuse. At least 61 percent of cases involved neglect and 10.3 percent sustain physical abuse due to things like physical violence or domestic violence.

Even though emotional abuse is often classified as “other” under forms of abuse, one study did find that about 1 child per 1,000 was reported as victims of emotional or psychological abuse or verbal abuse in 2017.

Signs of Child Abuse

teen trauma due to child abuse

Abuse within a teen’s home can bring about devastating implications for the individual’s mental health. Children who have been abused can have substantially higher risks of developing depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. In addition, conduct disorders, substance use disorders, unhealthy sexual activities, and other outward problems can stem from traumatic stress in children and teens.

Warning Signs of Distress and Behavioral Difficulties

Take a look at some warning signs and behavioral difficulties teens may portray if they are dealing with some level of abuse or neglect at home. 

  • Withdrawing from friends, family members, or social situations 
  • Frequently missing school or neglecting educational responsibilities 
  • Attempting to run away from home 
  • Being reluctant to leave school or homes of family members or friends 
  • Practicing self-harm or attempting suicide 
  • Portraying aggression or hostility in social situations 
  • Experiencing frequent bouts of anxiety or depression 


While these general signs can be red flags that abuse is taking place, some signs can be more dependent on the type of abuse being experienced at home. 

Types of Child Abuse

Physical Abuse 

  • Frequently has unexplained injuries, such as bruises, burns, or broken bones 
  • Teen offers explanations for injuries that don’t seem to match what you see 
  • Excessive emergency room visits 
  • Apparent fear of being at home 

Emotional or Verbal Abuse 

  • Lack of interest or enthusiasm about life 
  • Low self-esteem 
  • Lacking emotional development for the age 
  • A decrease in performance at school 
  • Seems to long for affection or attention, sometimes tries to find it in unhealthy ways 


  • Underweight for age 
  • Teen has lack of clothing, shoes, or necessities for school and hygiene 
  • Stealing or hiding food 
  • Lack of medical, dental, or psychological care
  • Stealing money or things of value

Resources for Teens, Caregivers of an Abused Teen, and Others

Abuse in a home environment can be such a tedious and complex situation. As an onlooker, you never truly understand the full dynamics of an abusive situation, but taking steps to make sure the teen is okay is vital. 

As a teen dealing with abuse at home, reaching out for help can seem like a tough thing to do, but so many people are willing to step in and help. Sometimes, even parents themselves may need help because they, too, are caught in abusive relationships themselves or know they may not be treating the teen as they should. Here are a few resources to keep in mind for caregivers and parents, concerned onlookers, and teens in an abusive situation.  

Resources for Abused Teens 

  • Text HOME to 741741 to speak with a crisis counselor
  • Call the National Runaway Safeline at 1-800-786-2929 if you are thinking about running away 
  • Call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453)
  • Reach out to a teacher, trusted adult, medical care provider, or local authorities 
  • If you are thinking about suicide, contact the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)

Resources for Parents/Caregivers 

  • Call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453)
  • Seek local support groups for parents of troubled teens, domestic abuse survivors, etcetera 
  • Speak to a health care provider for a referral for counseling, anger management classes, substance abuse disorder treatment
  • Text HOME to 741741 to speak with a crisis counselor
  • Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1.800.799.SAFE (7233)

Resources for Concerned Family Members, Educators, or Onlookers 

Abuse in a home environment can be a tedious and complex situation. As an onlooker, you never truly understand the full dynamics of an abusive situation, but taking steps to make sure the teen is okay is vital. 

Together, We Can Make a Difference to Prevent Teen Trauma Due to Child Abuse

The more we all know as caregivers, parents, educators, and as a society about traumatic experiences caused by abuse, the more we can work to make a difference. If you suspect a teen you know is being abused or is affected by a traumatic event, take action by reaching out to your local child welfare agency or authorities. Take the time to share this valuable information in your social media feed to help raise awareness of a very real problem.

If you are a survivor of emotional or physical abuse or neglect and would like to share your story, we’d love to hear it! Simply fill out the form on our website to share your experience to encourage others who may be facing trauma due to abuse. 







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