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Abuse In Childhood Raises Your Odds Of Facing Violence Later: University Of Auckland Study

Was your mother or stepmother ever slapped, hit, kicked,
punched or beaten up?

Did you live with anyone who
was a problem drinker or alcoholic? Did you live with anyone
who was depressed, mentally ill or suicidal? Did a parent or
adult in your home ever swear at you, insult you, or put you

A University of Auckland study explores the
association between experiencing adverse childhood events
and being subjected to violence in later

Emotional abuse at home as a child means
you’re nearly three times more likely to experience
violence from an intimate partner in later life, the
research shows.

Experiencing just one adverse event in
childhood – as half of the population does – is
associated with increased odds of being subject to violence

The research, published in the journal Child
Abuse & Neglect, analysed the responses of nearly 2,900
people who took part in New Zealand’s 2019 Family Violence

“It’s crucial to intervene in childhood
adversity, since the effects can be multiplied over a
lifetime, exacerbating social and economic inequalities,”
says Associate Professor Janet Fanslow, of the School of
Population Health in the Faculty of Medical and Health

International studies have shown links
between adverse childhood events and adult experiences of
violence, along with worse health for people exposed to
multiple adverse events.

Exposure to adverse childhood
events and other social determinants of health can cause
toxic stress (extended or prolonged stress), which affects
brain development (influencing, for example, attention,
decision-making, learning, and response to stress).
Witnessing or experiencing violence as a child may lead to
people imitating or tolerating those behaviours.

need to invest in strategies that support and sustain the
development of safe, stable, nurturing relationships and
environments for all children and families to help all
children reach their full potential,” says Dr

In the New Zealand study, one out of two
respondents reported at least one adverse childhood event.
The figures were worse for Māori, with almost 8 out of 10
Māori adults reporting having experienced at least one
adverse childhood experience.

One out of nine reported
at least four adverse childhood experiences before the age
of 18 – a cumulative toll associated with six-times higher
risk of experiencing intimate partner violence and
seven-times higher risk of experiencing non-partner

Overall, those who were younger, identified
as Māori, unemployed, lived in the most deprived areas, and
those who were food insecure reported significantly higher
exposure to adverse childhood events.

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