Over two million Australian adults experienced abuse of some kind during their childhood. When a child is plunged into an environment where neglect and abuse are present is forces the brain to adapt to that environment. The brain circuits adapt, and that distress experienced in childhood can have profound effects in adulthood. It doesn’t matter whether the abuse is emotional or physical, the effects last. 

What Is Childhood Trauma? 

What does childhood trauma look like? It can take shape in a wide variety of ways, and it isn’t always a straightforward case of physical abuse. 

  • Verbal abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Physical neglect
  • Physical abuse
  • Emotional neglect
  • Domestic violence in the home
  • Substance abuse in the home
  • Untreated mental illness within in the home
  • A sudden death
  • A household member being incarcerated
  • Acting as a caregiver to someone in the home
  • An accident that results in a debilitating injury or illness 

The Effects of Childhood Trauma in Adults 

What does childhood trauma in adults look like? It can manifest in a variety of ways. 


According to the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, health is the biggest victim of childhood trauma. Physical, emotional, and mental health are all impacted. Often, adults who suffered childhood trauma experience anxiety, depression, substance abuse issues, as well as eating disorders. 

Individuals who never received treatment as a result of their trauma have the biggest issues; they are more likely to suffer from poor stress management and conflict resolution skills. They are more likely to seek coping mechanisms such as alcohol, drugs, and even food. It’s a way of coping with the symptoms and underlying conflicts stemming from those health issues. 

Traumatic experiences and the memories they create can embed themselves deep in the body. This can contribute to chronic stress, and chronic stress leads to physical health issues. Past trauma can increase stress hormones in the body. These hormones can contribute to diabetes, autoimmune disorders, heart issues, obesity, and even increase the risk of certain cancers. Of course, it’s impossible to discuss possible health issues without touching on the price of the substance abuse that many people rely on to cope. 

Unhealthy Relationships

The trauma children experience can affect attachment style in adult relationships. There are a variety of attachment styles in relationships, and often, a trauma in childhood leads to unhealthy relationships and attachment styles. Moreover, childhood trauma may lead to an adult who is attracted to unhealthy people who are abusive, emotionally unavailable, or someone who matches their trauma identity. This can cause a brand new cycle of trauma. Many individuals understand their past, recognise what they want and need, but still make the wrong choices relationship-wise. They continue to seek out the traumatic feelings of their childhood because they are familiar. 

Also, some people who experience childhood trauma will avoid relationships. It could be due to a lack of social skills, or it might be a safety precaution. Either way, avoiding close relationships results in isolation which can contribute to wider mental health issues. 

National Redress Scheme 

Under the terms of the National Redress Scheme, you have until the June 27, 2027, to submit sexual abuse claims. The royal commission on sexual abuse held hearings on the subject of institutional child sex abuse, and the NRS was created as a result of the findings. 

The National Redress Scheme was called to action to recognise the abuse that many children suffered at the hands of institutions. In addition, it offered a path for victims to seek compensation and receive an acknowledgement or apology from the institution at fault. While nothing can erase the abuse that took place, the scheme provides victims with a way to move forward and heal. 

If you wish to make a sexual abuse claim via the NRS, National Redress Scheme payments are capped at $150,000. However, if you pursue a damages claim through the courts, there is no cap on awards. A judge will review similar cases and make an award based on this. Legal counsel can help you decide which path is right for you. 

Support Services 

If you require support, to process and heal the trauma you have experienced, there are several organisations you can reach out to. 

  • Beyond Blue – you can call 1300 224 636 or chat online if you prefer.
  • The Suicide Call Back Service is available to call 1300 659 467.
  • Lifeline offers online chats, a text service, or you can call 13 11 14.
  • 1 800 211 028 will connect you with Sexual Assault Counselling Australia.

How AJB Stevens Can Help You Navigate Child Abuse Laws Australia 

In addition to the support services above, you can also find free help with filling out the claim sexual abuse claim application. You may want to forego a sexual abuse claim via the National Redress Scheme and opt for direct action. Whatever your thoughts on the subject, you will need to enlist the services of a lawyer for child abuse cases who will provide accurate legal advice. There is a lot to consider before you make a decision and AJB Stevens can help you make an informed decision that is right for you.