11 Behaviors of an Adult Who Were Abused as a Child

11 Behaviors of an Adult Who Were Abused as a Child

Are you wondering how abusive childhood affects adulthood?

Childhood abuse can have a devastating and long-lasting impact on adulthood.

In fact, the abuse can cause various problems in adulthood, including difficulty trusting others, self-esteem issues, and relationship problems.

In this article, we will discuss 11 behaviors that are common in adults who were abused as children.

Let’s dive right in.

11 behaviors of an adult who were abused as a child

1. They may have difficulty trusting others

If you were abused as a child, it’s likely that you find it difficult to trust other people.

This is because your trust was broken by the person who was supposed to protect you – your caregiver.

As a result, you may feel nervous around people and find it challenging to share your feelings.

Unfortunately, this makes it hard for others to get close enough to earn that trust of yours!

This can cause problems throughout adulthood – especially when dealing with romantic relationships.

If you have trust issues, here are some steps you can take to learn how to trust people:

Start small

Begin by trusting people with small things, like whether they will show up on time for a meeting.

Slowly build up your trust over time.

Make sure to communicate

If you have any doubts or concerns, talk to the person you’re trusting.

This will help them understand what you’re thinking and feeling, and it will help to build trust.


The more you practice opening up and trusting others, the easier it becomes – especially when you recognize that they have your best interests in mind.

With these tips, you can overcome your difficulties with trust!

2. They may have problems with self-esteem

The simple truth is that people who were abused as children often have low self-esteem.

This is because they tend to blame themselves for the abuse, and they may feel ashamed of what happened to them.

They also notice how other people treat them differently after finding out about their past – which only makes things worse.

But here’s a little secret:

You can overcome low self-esteem and increase your confidence.

Here are a few tips to help you do just that:

Try not to compare yourself with others

Remember, we all have different strengths and weaknesses.

If someone is better than you at something, it doesn’t mean they’re “better ” than you as a person.

Give yourself credit

If someone compliments you, don’t dismiss it with something like, “Oh, it was nothing!” Instead, say thank you and accept the compliment gracefully.

You deserve to feel good about what you accomplished!

Accept your strengths & weaknesses

Everyone has things they’re good at and things they struggle with.

Try your best to accept both of these parts about yourself.

With continued practice, you can work towards feeling better about who you are!

3. They may have difficulties in relationships

Let’s face it:

Relationships are hard.

But if you were abused as a child, relationships can be even more difficult for you than others.

You may find it challenging to trust people or open up to them, which makes starting and maintaining relationships tough.

Also, if you have low self-esteem or difficulty trusting people in general, it may be hard for your partner to understand why.

All in all, this can make relationships difficult – especially romantic ones!

If you’re struggling in your relationships, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Talk about your problems

This may be difficult for you, but it’s important.

If you don’t communicate with your partner, they won’t be able to help you or understand what you’re going through.

Don’t make assumptions

It can be easy to jump to conclusions about what your partner is doing or thinking.

But if you don’t talk it out with them, you may never know the truth.

If your partner is abusive, get help

If you’re in an abusive relationship, it’s important to get help.

There are people who can support you and help you leave the relationship safely.

With time and effort, you can have healthy and happy relationships!

4. They may have problems with managing their emotions

Adults who were abused as children can often struggle when it comes to managing their own emotions.

This is especially true if the abuse they suffered was extreme or traumatic, and they haven’t worked through these feelings yet.

As an adult, you might find yourself falling into depression more easily than others.

Or you may feel anxiety or anger more intensely than others.

But here’s good news:

You can manage your emotions – and it starts with learning how to focus on the present moment rather than the past!

Here are a few tips to help you manage your emotions:

Take time to breathe & meditate

Taking deep breaths can help calm your body down, which in turn helps reduce stress and anxiety.

Meditation is also a great way to practice staying focused on the present moment!

Try yoga or another form of exercise

Physical activity releases endorphins into your brain – which can help you feel happier and more relaxed.

Do something that makes you happy

Whether it’s cooking, reading a book, or doing some craft projects – find an activity that gives your brain a break!

If none of these things seems to work for you, consider talking with someone about your feelings.

There are people who can help you work through the emotions you’re struggling with.

5. They may have problems with substance abuse

Substance abuse is a common problem for people who were abused as children.

This could be anything from abusing drugs or alcohol to binge eating or gambling.

Again, this is often because these behaviors are ways of coping with the pain that’s been inflicted on you in the past.

If you’re suffering from substance abuse, here are some things you can do to help yourself:

Find healthy coping mechanisms

It can be easy to turn towards unhealthy behaviors like drugs or alcohol as a way of masking your emotions.

But it actually makes the problem worse over time!

Instead, find other ways to cope with your emotions.

Try talking with a friend, going for a walk, or practicing deep breathing techniques.

Work on your self-confidence

If you have low self-esteem and difficulty coping with difficult feelings, it can trigger substance abuse problems.

So working on building up your self-worth is key!

Get support from others

One of the best things you can do for yourself is to connect with others.

Reach out and find people who will support your growth – whether it’s through therapy, joining a 12-step program like AA, or other means!

If you struggle with substance abuse problems, know that there are people who want to help.

You don’t have to do this alone.

6. They may have self-destructive behavior patterns

One of the biggest problems that adult survivors of childhood abuse struggle with is difficulty taking care of themselves.

This could manifest in a number of ways, such as:

  • Not taking care of your physical health: This includes things like not eating well, not exercising, or abusing drugs or alcohol.
  • Ignoring your mental health: This includes things like self-harm, eating disorders, and addiction.
  • Ignoring your emotional health: This includes things like avoiding relationships, isolating yourself from others, or constantly feeling overwhelmed.

If you’re struggling with self-destructive behavior patterns, get help from professionals!

There are people who can help you learn how to take care of yourself in a healthy way.

7. They might turn to illicit activities

People who were abused as children often end up turning towards illegal or “risky” behaviors.

This could include anything from breaking the law, engaging in prostitution, shoplifting – even things like internet addiction and gambling problems.

But this is because these can be ways of coping with painful feelings.

If you’re struggling with illegal activities, here are some ways to help you stop:

Find healthy ways of coping with difficult emotions

If you feel like your emotional pain is overwhelming and that the only way out is through breaking the law, then this isn’t true!

There are other ways to cope.

Try talking with a friend, going for a walk, or practicing deep breathing techniques.

Talk to someone about your feelings

This is one of the most important things you can do!

It’s hard to deal with these feelings on your own, and it’s helpful to have someone else to talk to.

Avoid isolation

It’s so important for your physical and mental health to stay connected with other people!

This can be a therapist, support group, or even just good friends.

8. They may have eating disorders

People who were abused as children are at a much greater risk of developing eating disorders.

This could be things like anorexia, bulimia, or binge-eating disorder.

But this is because these behaviors can provide your body with the feeling of control that you don’t have in other areas of your life.

If you struggle with disordered eating habits, get professional help.

If this has become so problematic that it’s interfering with your daily life and relationships, then it’s time to get support from professionals!

You shouldn’t have to deal with this alone.

9. They may have chronic stress

Adults who were victims of abuse as children often suffer from chronic stress.

This is because the abuse can cause a lot of trauma, which can lead to ongoing anxiety and depression.

If you’re struggling with chronic stress, here are some things that may help:

Talk to a therapist

This is one of the best things you can do!

A therapist can help you process and come to terms with what happened and also work on techniques for coping.

Take care of your body

This includes things like getting regular exercise, eating balanced meals, and getting enough sleep.

Think about your lifestyle

Are there some things you can change in order to reduce stress?

Can you delegate some tasks at work?

Take breaks throughout the day?

Remove negative people from your life

This can be tough, but it’s worth it!

If there are people in your life who are constantly bringing you down, it’s time to cut them loose.

Find positive outlets

This could include things like journaling, painting, or listening to music.

10. They have physical health problems

Research suggests that adults who were abused as children are even at greater risk for developing physical health problems.

This is because the abuse can cause a lot of stress, which can lead to diseases like heart problems, headaches, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, obesity, gastrointestinal disorders, and even cancer.

11. They may have attention-seeking behavior

Attention-seeking behavior is very common in adults who were abused as children.

This is because they may have learned that this was the only way to get the attention and care that they needed.

In general, they do whatever they can to get people’s attention.

They might do this through dramatic, emotional outbursts – or even just through manipulative behavior.

If this is a problem for you, here are some helpful tips:

Start by acknowledging that you have a problem with attention-seeking behavior.

This is the first step in trying to address it.

Then, start trying to take care of yourself in healthier ways.

This could be through practicing self-love or reaching out to people who can support you.

Conclusion on behaviors of an adult who were abused as a child

The behaviors discussed in this article are some of the most common ones seen in adults who were abused as children.

If you’re struggling with any of these, please know that you are not alone.

It’s important to get support from other people and to seek professional help if needed.

People who were victims of child abuse often carry these psychological scars with them for their entire lives.

But it’s important to know that you can heal.

With the right help and support, you can get to a place where you’re finally free from the pain of the past.

You deserve it!

Keep reading: 7 Behaviors of someone suffering from past emotional trauma