The childhood as well as into adulthood

The Effects of Child Abuse Into Adulthood
Destiny Powell
Texas Woman’s University
Novemeber 28th, 2018

The Effects Of Child Abuse Into Adulthood
Of all of the major themes and topics that can be found in the book “The immortal life of Henrietta Lacks” I will be discussing how child abuse can affect people going into their adulthood such as it did for Deborah and Joe (Zakariyya).Child abuse can have a range of negative effects on its victims in their childhood as well as into adulthood and it is important to know and realize the effects of child abuse so that victims can seek help and prevent the cycle from happening across generations.
Child abuse can be defined as any physical, emotional, verbal, or sexual act of mistreatment to a child or minor. Forms of child abuse can include neglect, physical, sexual, emotional, and psychological abuse. Neglect is a form of abuse in which there is a failure to meet a child’s basic needs such as social, educational, and safety needs. On the contrary, physical abuse is the act of causing intentional injury or trauma through bodily contact. Child sexual abuse which is also called child molestation is the act of an adult using a child for sexual pleasure or exploitation, while emotional child abuse is described as when the abuser belittles, rejects, ignores, or criticizes the victim. Furthermore, psychological abuse is when a child is exposed to behavior that can result in psychological trauma such as anxiety or chronic depression.

Annotated Bibliography
Skloot, Rebecca.(2010). The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. New York: Crown Publishers
The story of The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks has various themes and discusses how the cells of Henrietta were taken and used as they revolutionized the world of medical research. The portion of this book that I will be summarizing is how child abuse and neglect affected Henrietta’s children into their adulthood. After Henrietta died due to cerivical cancer, her children were left to be taken care of by Ethel and Galen whom were family acquaintances. Ethel and Galen physically abused and neglected the children while Galen also sexually abused Henrietta’s daughter, Deborah. Although Henrietta’s oldest son Lawrence and his wife, Bobbette, stepped in to take the kids, the traumatic effects from Ethel and Galen had already taken effect. As we look at how Henrietta’s children turned out to be in their adulthood we can see that Joe (Zakariyya) and Deborah whom received the worst abuse turned out to also have the worst effects in the long run. Due to the beatings Joe experienced, he grew up to be a very aggressive man and he grew to be fearful of his past. He is also an alcoholic and can’t hold a job. Deborah on the other hand experienced neglect and sexual abuse. The lack of attention from her father and loss of her mother led to traumatic effects on her emotional life. Due to the abuse it is also incredibly hard to earn Deborah’s trust and in order to gain it, it takes hard work.

Hunter, Cathryn. (2017, February 23). Effects of child abuse and neglect for adult survivors. Retrieved from
In the above article I have found that the impacts child abuse can have on its victims later in life include substance abuse, mental health disorders, engaging in abusive behaviors toward their own children, suicidal behaviors, eating disorders and obesity, and higher chances to engage in criminal activities. These findings have been supported by various studies that have been conducted and all of the studies find that child abuse and neglect results in negative effects throughout adulthood. One study has found that adults were seven times more likely to abuse alcohol, five times more likely to use illegal drugs and ten times more likely to have injected drugs compared to adults with no childhood abuse experiences (Felitti et. al,, 1998). In this same study, it was also indicated that adults were 12 times more likely to have attempted suicide than adults who had no childhood abuse experiences. Additionally, another study found that adults who had traumatic childhood experiences were two and half times more likely to have major depression and six times more likely to have post-traumatic stress disorder as compared to adults with none of these childhood experiences (Afifi et. al, 2009). Another study conducted in 2001 by Pears and Capaldi had findings showing that parents who experienced physical abuse had a much greater chance of engaging in abusive behavior toward their own children or children in their care. Furthermore, a study conducted in the United Kingdom produced results that indicate severe forms of childhood abuse increased the risk of obesity in middle-aged adults by 20 to 40%. Similar to this, another study found that young adults with these childhood experiences were five times more likely to have an eating disorder compared to those without (Thomas et. al, 2008). Lastly, children who experience child abuse or neglect are 9 times more likely to engage in criminal activity. Roughly 14% of men and 36% of women imprisoned in the United States were abused as children which are twice as many as seen in the general population.
As we realize the taunting effects child abuse has on its victims later in life it is important that we reach out and help victims so that the cycle doesn’t repeat itself and so that these victims don’t feel alone. Child abuse is a serious issue that happens all around the world and we need to be prepared to help these victims so that their adverse childhood experiences doesn’t affect their outlook on the rest of their adulthood life. Victims of abuse that are having a hard time coping should seek help and get the assistance they need because not getting the support you require can result in more problems later in life.
The reason I chose this question as the basis and topic of my research paper is because I can relate to it in my life and through my personal experiences. As a child my parents were in and out of me and my sibling’s lives due to substance and alcohol abuse. Although we didn’t necessarily experience the abuse part, we definitely experienced the neglect part. Growing up with parents being in and out of your life can lead to confusion and the feeling of being unwanted. These are all feelings I have experienced growing up and I’m sure my siblings have too. The effects of these feelings can lead to rebellious behavior, acting out in school, isolation, and much more. When the effects of these feelings progress it can lead to much bigger and serious problems later in life. Although I haven’t personally experienced any of the further effects going into adulthood I can see some of them happening in my siblings. I wanted to research this topic so that I could compare my findings to what I’m seeing happen in my family.This is part of the reason why I am deciding to be a psychology major, so that I can do research and learn about how these effects affect people’s growth and development. Not only do I wanna research this topic but I want to research and learn so much more. Being a psychology major will allow me to learn about behaviors, the mind, emotion processing, growth, and development. By attending Texas Woman’s University it will allow me to follow the steps needed in order to become a psychologist and make it into graduate school so that I can research and understand the things that I am passionate about.

“Effects of Child Abuse and Neglect for Adult Survivors.” Australian Institute of Family Studies, 21 Jan. 2014,

“Child Abuse Statistics.” Childhelp,

“Office for Victims of Crime.”,

“Child Abuse Statistics.” American SPCC,

“Why The Impact of Child Abuse Extends Well Into Adulthood.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers,

"The Effects of Child Abuse on Victims." Issues & Controversies, Infobase Learning, 20 Aug. 2012, Accessed 25 Sept. 2018.

“Effects of Child Abuse and Neglect for Adult Survivors.” Help for Adult Victims Of Child Abuse – HAVOCA, 23 Feb. 2017,

Skloot, Rebecca.(2010). The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. New York: Crown Publishers


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