The Undeniable Connection between DID and Child Abuse


There is an undeniable link between dissociative identity disorder (DID) and child abuse. Child abuse can lead to mental health problems that occur in childhood and can continue into adulthood. People often relate childhood abuse to depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but dissociative identity disorder has the most significant connection to childhood abuse and neglect, so much so that the connection between DID and child abuse cannot be ignored.

What Is Child Abuse and Neglect, and Who Is at Risk?

Child abuse includes physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and/or neglect that results in the harm of a child. In a large majority of child abuse cases, a parent is the abuser. It is also important to note that women perpetrate child abuse more frequently than men, a reality that goes against common societal belief.

Child abuse knows no boundaries. It occurs in rich families and in poor, in families of all religious backgrounds, and in all different races. There is no “type” of child that will be abused, just as there is no one “type” of abuser.

The Relationship between Child Abuse, Neglect and Dissociative Identity Disorder

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Illness (DSM-5), a history of childhood abuse and neglect is prevalent in 90% of cases of dissociative identity disorder (DID). The remaining cases involve medical trauma, terrorism, and childhood prostitution. Ninety percent is overwhelming. Other research claims that rates of abuse and neglect in DID are actually much higher.

DID develops in response to severe, recurring trauma in childhood. Children are not fully equipped to cope with continued, severe instances of abuse, so they may develop dissociation as a survival skill, which can then develop into DID. It makes sense, then, that the rate of childhood abuse and neglect in people with DID is so high.

Preventing Child Abuse Can Prevent Dissociative Identity Disorder

There’s no telling how much of those 90% of DID cases could have been prevented had those children been protected from abuse. If we prevent child abuse, we can greatly reduce the number of cases of DID, and cases of other disorders with roots in childhood trauma.

Awareness and prevention is a universal effort. Mental health workers, teachers, and other professionals working with children need to be aware of the signs of abuse and neglect. We, as a society, need to educate our children about abuse and body safety and eliminate the shame abuse causes.

Most importantly, never deny a child or adult who says they have been abused. Most of the time, abusers are also very good actors, playing the part society wants to see on the outside, and changing their roles into abusers behind closed doors. During one of my psychiatric hospitalizations, I overheard a mental health aide say, “She said her mom abused her, but I don’t know; her mom seemed really nice and caring on the phone.”

That feeling of being invalidated hurts in a way that cannot be erased.

So many times in my life, people turned a blind eye to the abuse. As a child, I showed many of the classic signs of abuse, but those signs were ignored or rationalized by people on the outside. Here was a family that went to church every Sunday, sent their children to private school, and seemed put-together in public. Abuse doesn’t happen in families like that. Except it does. It happened to me; and it happens to countless others.

I’m managing my DID, but I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I don’t want future generations to have to go through the same turmoil that I went through. Child abuse is preventable. DID can be, too.

Find Crystalie on Google+FacebookTwitterher website and her blog.Tags: child abuse and DIDchild abuse and dissociative identity disorderDID and child abusedissociative identity disorder and child abuse

APA Reference
Matulewicz, C. (2016, April 20). The Undeniable Connection between DID and Child Abuse, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, July 30 from

Author: Crystalie Matulewicz

Crystalie is the founder of PAFPAC, is a published author and the writer of Life Without Hurt. She has a BA in psychology and will soon have an MS in Experimental Psychology, with a focus on trauma. Crystalie manages life with PTSD, DID, major depression, and an eating disorder. You can find Crystalie on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter.

RETRIEVED see APA Reference (above Author)