Feature Article

The wounded adult: helping adult survivors of child abuse

Cathy Kezelman



Patients who have experienced childhood abuse or trauma may have a range of health issues related to their childhood abuse. To best help these patients, GPs need to be aware, informed and empathic.

Key Points

  • About one in every six adults in Australia is a survivor of childhood trauma.
  • A patient’s childhood traumas may be affecting his or her health now.
  • Be aware of the possibility of underlying childhood trauma in a patient of any age.
  • Listen and validate a patient’s feelings.
  • Provide patients with information about how their abuse may be affecting them.
  • Encourage self-care and a support network.
  • Be clear about what GPs can do for patients who have experienced childhood trauma, and refer these patients appropriately.