Understanding the effects of child abuse in Australia Blue Knot Day, 28 October 2013

28 October, 2013 is Blue Knot Day, an annual national event that raises public awareness about the issues affecting adult survivors of child abuse and trauma. This year, Adults Surviving Child Abuse (ASCA) marks Blue Knot Day with the release of new research that highlights mental health problems, substance abuse and suicidality amongst the extensive social costs of childhood abuse and trauma.


ASCA is Australia’s leading national organisation advocating for the estimated 4-5 million adult survivors of childhood trauma

[1]. The research findings are drawn from more than 4000 incoming calls, over the past four and a half years, to the ASCA helpline – 1300 657 380 – which offers professional counselling support for survivors.


President of ASCA, Dr Cathy Kezelman, explained that it can take years to address the damage caused by childhood abuse, ranking mental health problems and compromised family relationships as significant indicators of the collective toll that childhood abuse takes on society. 


Personal impacts of abuse: 

Mental health problems 78%
Relationships with immediate family 52%
Physical health problems 24%
Employment difficulties 22%
Suicidality 15%
Alcohol Abuse 12%
Illicit drug use 10
Source: ASCA

Dr Kezelman said: “As the ASCA 1300 research indicates, the long-term social, health and personal impacts of childhood abuse and trauma are far-reaching and numerous. And they have significant economic implications as well. Opening up public discussion about this complex issue is an important step towards healing, both for individuals as well as communities.”

Of the callers who disclosed the nature of the abuse which caused them to call the ASCA helpline, nearly half reported multiple forms of abuse (43%) while the majority had experienced childhood sexual abuse (79%).

Other common forms of abuse reported by callers included emotional abuse (39%), physical abuse (36%) and neglect (7%).


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