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Session Five - Childhood Physical Abuse

Hello everyone and welcome to our Trauma support session. Today we will be discussing Childhood  Physical Abuse. Trauma sessions will run at the same times each week and they are an opportunity for us to learn from and share with one another. Let’s remember to show kindness and support to others in the group at all times. If you need more support during this time, please connect 1-1 with a listener.


See this resource thread ( for coping if being triggered.


Everyone is welcome to share and participate as they would like, but we respectfully ask you to let everyone participate in the discussion as they are comfortable to do so.   Due to the nature of trauma discussion, please do not provide graphic details of your trauma to help prevent triggering others.


Reminder:  If you feel yourselves being triggered, remember it's okay to take a breather from the room and come back when you are feeling ready to.  Remember to use the link on grounding and if necessary, reach out for support to a listener. You come first and it's important to look after your needs!


Reminder if needed in discussion by leaders - To show respect to one another let’s keep this a safe, supportive space, remembering not to be too graphic to avoid triggering others, and focus on the current question so everyone feels included and involved.


Let’s start today with an icebreaker.  If you were a dinosaur, what type would you be?


Discussing childhood abuse may always be a tough topic for many of you to participate in. Please remember to take gentle care of you during this chat.  What are some positive and healthy ways you can take care of yourself, during this support chat, and in moments where you may find it hard to be here?


  1. Lets begin with what we consider to be physical abuse.  How would you define physical abuse as a child?


Physical abuse is defined as the use of physical force which may result in injury, pain or impairment. Physical abuse is deliberately hurting a child causing injuries such as bruises, broken bones, burns or cuts.  It isn’t accidental - children who are physically abused suffer violence such as being hit, kicked, poisoned, burned, slapped or having objects thrown at them. Shaking or hitting babies can cause non-accidental head injuries (NAHI). Sometimes parents or carers will make up or cause the symptoms of illness in their child, perhaps giving them medicine they don’t need and making the child unwell – this is known as fabricated or induced illness (FII). (NSPCC)


  1. What signs do most people associate with a child being abused.  If you feel comfortable, what signs do you feel were visible to others, that you yourself were being physically abused that others should have seen or could have picked up on?


Physical signs: Cuts, Bruises, Burns, Restraint or grip markings, Black eyes, Unusual pattern of injury; repeated trips to the emergency room, scarring, effects of poisoning such as vomiting, drowsiness or seizures, respiratory problems from drowning, suffocation or poisoning

Behavioural signs: Withdrawn,  suddenly behaves differently, Anxious,  Clingy, Depressed, Aggressive problems sleeping, eating disorders, wets the bed, soils clothes, takes risks, misses school, changes in eating habits, obsessive behaviour, Nightmares, Drug and alcohol abuse, Self-harm, thoughts about suicide.


  1. In additional to the obvious signs that physical abuse may be occuring in a child’s life, there are also covert signs, meaning signs that are invisible and not recognised by onlookers as abuse as all.  What examples of covert physical abuse are you aware of or have you experienced yourselves?


This might be aggressive behaviour such as kicking or punching walls, throwing objects, designed to intimidate others but is often not considered as abuse by victims as there is not physical marks.  Gaslighting. The victim is commanded to believe the version of reality the abuser tells them to, rather than their own memory of the events.  Being restrained where it leaves no marks, name calling, eroding of self esteem


  1. When the abuse was occurring for you as a child, were you able to tell anyone as a child?  If not what barriers prevented you from being able to do so? If yes, what support did you receive?


  1. What impact do you feel physical abuse has on a child at the time whether they experienced overt or covert abuse?  For those of you who experienced physical abuse as a child, how did you cope and was there anyone safe in your life at the time to whom you could turn to?  


Aggression, overreactions to perceived transgressions, inability to express needs or communicate effectively in relationships, self esteem and self worth problems, fear of violence, inability to have healthy relationships, eating distress, self harm, drug and alcohol dependency


  1. How has the impact of physical child abuse affected you now as an adult and especially with the way you feel about yourself and others around you? How do you feel your experiences have shaped who are you today?


  1. Let’s explore some ways to overcome childhood physical abuse. Talking about your experiences and your feelings can be helpful in accepting what happened to you. Have you managed to reach out to a friend/therapist or family member? If so, how did that feel for you?


  1. Accepting what happened to us as children and expressing our feelings in a healthy way, is a really important part of learning to recovery from the physical abuse we went through as children.  What ways have you found that have enabled you to express healthily what you went through and what is your understanding of why it's important to find healthy channels for expression of the pain of what we experienced?


  1. Once we understand our experiences we are more able to recognise physically abusive behaviours as an adult to prevent revictimisation. In addition to this is working on our self worth and self esteem that was eroded away as children.  This can help us to recognise redflags earlier on in future relationships if we find ourselves repeating history. What behaviours stood out to you when you were a child and what might that look like in an adult relationship?


  1. If we find ourselves in abusive relationships in the future, what can we do to gain safety for ourselves to prevent ourselves becoming a victim once more because we do not deserve to be hurt again?


Go to a shelter, download the aspire app, call an abuse helpline


  1. Generally it’s easier to give support and encouragement to others than to ourselves. If you could say anything to a survivor who has just disclosed they were abused as a child, what would you say?  What encouragement would you give to others on their journey to heal and recover from the effects of childhood abuse?


Thank you everyone for participating in this group support discussion.  If you would spend a minute filling in this feedback form, it would be most appreciated.  Thank you for being here and take care of yourselves.


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If you would like to take part in the Traumatic Experiences Community forum discussions, please see this link:

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