Cycles of Abuse: Childhood Trauma and Adult Behavior

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Updated: Oct 19, 2023
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Cycles of Abuse: Childhood Trauma and Adult Behavior

This essay would delve into the connection between traumatic experiences during childhood and the manifestation of dysfunctional behaviors in adulthood. It would discuss how repeated exposure to trauma can establish patterns of behavior, potentially leading to issues such as substance abuse, relationship challenges, or mental health disorders in later life. At PapersOwl, you’ll also come across free essay samples that pertain to Abuse topic.

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It has been proven that any form of abuse during childhood could affect a child’s mental and behavioral growth into adulthood. There are times the effects can cause the person to become violent with children or sexual aroused by children. A study made by Carmen, Rieker, and Mills (1984) shown that gender can play an important role in ways they cope with childhood abuse. According to Dutton & Hart (1992), women were more likely to internalize their feelings like depression or suicidal intent to cope from their childhood experience, versus men are more likely to get aggressive and take it out on others.

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(Dutton & Hart, 1992) Out of 41 females attending the forensic psychotherapy service who were victims of sexual abuse, only two percent were also perpetrators, compared to the males. There were 135 males attending the service and fifty-nine percent of those males were also perpetrators (Kolvin & Campbell 2001).

Kurt Freund and Michael Kuban (1994) completed research on whether sexual abuse in childhood can cause the victim to become an abuser, the subjects were pedophilic and non-pedophilic sex offenders against children. The research was done by dividing the subject into subgroups according to the degree of admitting to having sexual fantasies about children. They were asked two questions for the Erotic Preferences Examination Scheme (EPES, Freund, 1965). Depending on the answers to the questions the subjects were labeled pedophilic admitters, partial admitters, and non-admitters. The next step of the study the researchers questioned the subjects about their childhood experiences and if they ever encountered any form of abuse. (Freund & Kuban, 1994) The result of the study showed that an erotic age preference was an important predictor of childhood abuse, whereas offender status was not. (Freund & Kuban, 1994)

A study completed by Langevin, Wright, and Handy to find if there were characteristics of sex offenders who were sexually victimized as children. The study found that the abused group showed “sexualization” in their childhood they tended to show more emotional instability than the non-abused group. They also reported drugs and alcohol abuse cause more aggression. (Langevin, Wright, & Handy 1989)

The study completed by Gary Sawle and Jon Kear-Colwell to discover whether someone’s attachment styles will differ because of the trauma they have experienced at a young age compared to pedophiles and college students. In addition, the researcher also wanted to compare the duration of their adult sexual relationships to someone who had no traumatic experiences in their childhood. The study discovered that the college students received more security of attachment in their childhood than the pedophiles, which were found to have a weak attachment style. Pedophiles were found to have experienced levels of early abuse during their childhood. (Sawle & Colwell 2001)

Finkelhor and Browne to find out if the traumatic impact of child sexual abuse broke it down to four factors of the effects of child sexual abuse did a study. The four factors are traumatic sexualization, betrayal, stigmatization, and powerlessness. (Finkelhor & Browne, 1985) These factors are used to make assessments of victimized children who may face issues in adulthood. Traumatic sexualization is a major focus in the study and demonstrated how traumatic sexualization can cause a child to have misconceptions about sex and sexual relations as a result of victims becoming perpetrators. (Finkelhor & Browne, 1985)

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Cycles of Abuse: Childhood Trauma and Adult Behavior. (2019, Jun 06). Retrieved from