Movies about Child Abuse

Movies about Child Abuse

Let’s look into some movies showcasing child abuse. A tentative warning here that certain movies might be triggering for you.

Sleepers

A movie about child abuse where four friends were sexually and physically abused in a reform school. Their past catches up with them when they meet their abusers in adulthood and the situation escalates quickly.

Sibyl

Child abuse movie of a young girl whose fragile mind was tragically fractured due to years of abuse by her unstable mother. The setting is the late 1950s: multiple personality disorder has yet to be recognized as a serious condition by the mainstream medical community, and Dr. Cornelia Wilbur is struggling against the sexist attitudes of her chauvinistic male colleagues.

Spotlight

When the newspaper’s tenacious “Spotlight” team of reporters delve into allegations of child abuse in the Catholic Church, their year-long investigation uncovers a decades-long cover-up at the highest levels of Boston’s religious, legal, and government establishment, touching off a wave of revelations around the world.

Good Will Hunting

The one thing this remarkably bright, impossibly angry young man can’t do – after his latest bar fight – is talk his way out of a pending jail sentence. His only hope is Sean McGuire (Robin Williams), a college professor-turned-therapist with an admiration for Will’s emotional struggles, and a keen understanding of what it’s like to fight your way through life.

Antwone Fisher

Antwone Fisher, a young navy man, is forced to see a psychiatrist after a violent outburst against a fellow crewman. He remembers his childhood which is one of sexual abuse by a female when he was a boy, and neglect. Against all odds, he succeeds and is now an American screenwriter, poet, lecturer, and best-selling author.

Frankie & Alice

Frankie & Alice is inspired by the remarkable true story of an African American go-go dancer “Frankie” with multiple personalities (dissociative identity disorder or “DID”) who struggles to remain her true self while fighting against two very unique alter egos: a seven-year-old child named Genius and a Southern white racist woman named Alice.

These are some of the child abuse movies I can think of from the top of my head.

Share with me in the comments below which movies–to related child abuse or neglect–you would add to this list?

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  • Beth says:

    The movie Split

    • Heidi says:

      The film Split is, in my opinion, a terrible portrayal of DID. The film demonizes someone suffering from the disorder and portrays the man as an evil perpetrator. This film only serves to further stigmatize persons with mental illness, particularly DID in this case, as violent maniacs of whom the world should be scared. When in fact, the opposite is very true, persons with mental illnesses are far more likely to be victimized and revictimized than they are to be perpetrators. I realize that this is just a film produced to make money, however I feel it just further perpetuates the misconception that DID is something to be afraid because a person suffering with the condition is portrayed as a violent perpetrator.

  • Trinity says:

    (Yes. Sleepers, good will hunting) Gerald’s game-awesome movie. Flowers in the attic. Girl interrupted.

  • Trinity says:

    Colour purple.

  • Tiffany says:

    Mommy Dearest

  • Summer Hall says:

    Mommy Dearest

  • Patty says:

    August Osage County and Mommy Dearest

  • Summer Hall says:

    Mommy Dearest.

  • Summer Hall says:

    Oops… sorry for double-post, folks! lol

  • Jenny says:

    Martian Child was excellent, and did a great job of showing a child struggling with disassociation, etc.

  • Hayley Whittle says:

    CARRIE! .

  • Nicole says:

    They’re not movies but docuseries The Keepers and The Examination of Conscience on Netflix

  • Amy says:

    Radio Flyer

  • David says:

    Magdalen Sisters

  • Cari says:

    How about Mommie Dearest? 1981 movie with Faye Dunaway, that movie is something else!

  • Juanita says:

    Flowers in the attic , Precious

  • Renee Cherowitz says:

    Gardens in the night is about child sexual trafficking and portrays a very realistic picture of the before, during and after abduction. Bastard out of south Carolina is about a little girl targeted by her mother’s boyfriend and her mother’s reaction to it. Both are excellent and unfortunately based on reality.

  • Anna says:

    Rambling Rose with Laura Dern.

  • sal says:

    Goodnight Mr tom

  • Sue says:

    Room ….. very emotional movie! Told through the eyes of the abducted Mother and her 5 year old son!

  • Allison says:

    The Outsiders (1983); This Property is Condemned (1966) w/ Natalie Wood

  • Cherrie says:

    I would add Running with Scissors

  • Erin says:

    FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC

  • Gina says:

    The war zone.

  • Trina R Ford says:

    Radio Flyer

  • Trina R Ford says:

    Bastard out of Carolina

  • Peggy says:

    The Prince of Tides, Great Expectations, Dead Poet’s Society, Radio Flyer, Precious, Matilda, The Cell

  • Leanne says:

    The Glass Castle

  • Tom says:

    The Great Santini
    Ordinary People

  • Sam says:

    “When Rabbit Howls”

  • Sam says:

    “Sling Blade” is an amazingly good movie on this topic.
    “Precious” is a good one too.
    “Room” – they did a good job of showing the turmoil of PTSD, too
    And the best one (right up there with Sling Blade) is:
    Martian Child (2007)

  • Lisa says:

    Bastard out of Carolina

  • Louise says:

    I Can Only Imagine

  • Cheryl says:

    Prince of Tides

  • Nikita says:

    This Boy’s Life (childhood memoir) was important for my brother and me when young to conceptualise some of the abuse/isolation.

  • sancho says:

    Mystic River

  • Diane says:

    Not Cinderella’s Type

  • Jo says:

    Short term 12 is a beautiful movie about adolescents in residential care and their family backgrounds. Highly recommend!

  • Monica says:

    While I can’t think of any movies, you should read the books written by Torey Hayden, a psychotherapist who works with abused children. As shocking as the abuse of these children is, she helps them to become functional adults and she has nothing but my utmost admiration and respect for not giving up on these kids even when they themselves attack her physically and verbally. Well worth reading, there is a long list of books but it’s best to read them in chronological order as she sometimes refers to previous cases.

  • Shannyn says:

    I too would put Mommy Dearest. I remember watching this as a child and realising life no matter who you are can be very different bring closed doors.

  • Tonya Renee says:

    Mommy Dearest

  • Mechelle says:

    Bastard out of Carolina…. when I watch that movie it was surreal. My life was just letting that little girls laugh bones I think they called her my stepdad just like that. Her mother is losing a child he’s having sex with her prepubescent daughter in the front seat of the car and it was such an accurate film I don’t want to have it done it without traumatizing that child, if you haven’t seen that you should watch it Jennifer Jason Leigh does a good job as a mom

  • Liz says:

    The War Zone. Not an easy one to watch.

  • Liz says:

    The War Zone – not an easy one to watch.

  • Liz says:

    Sorry for the multiple posts!

  • Michael says:

    Angela’s Ashes

  • kim ducharme says:

    Mysterious Skin is one I use to demonstrate the complexity for children and the fact that sexual abuse can happen to any family…..

  • Julie says:

    “A Thousand Acres”

  • Summer Hall says:

    Does anyone know of any movies, or even any information, regarding mothers who molest/sell their daughters?
    We seem to have been left behind because no one wants to acknowledge that mothers, who are “hardwired to love unconditionally and be nurturers”, could or would ever commit such an atrocious action upon her own child.
    I’m here to tell you, it DOES, and it occurs more frequently than any would prefer to admit or acknowledge. “Too taboo” for society to address. No information or resources anywhere. Any help would be greatly appreciated. (Please accept my apologies for veering off-subject.) Brightest blessings to all.

  • Ellen says:

    This post is completely confusing to me. As a child abuse survivor my life sucks. The abuse is always on my mind. These type of movies are a horrible trigger. I don’t get why any human being would watch such trash.

    • Roland says:

      Hi Ellen. I totally get that. At the beginning of the post, I gave a warning that for some these movies can be triggering. People are in different stages of their healing or feeling overwhelmed.

  • sancho says:

    Mystic River
    The Book of Henry

  • misty says:

    Bastard out of carolina
    Enough
    Freedom writers

  • Valerie says:

    Stand by Me & Forrest Gump are not directly about abuse but do demonstrate the devastating life long effects it on its victims

  • Sarah says:

    For my daughters honour (also released as indecent seduction)

  • Anita O Shea says:

    mommy dearest

  • Ayesha says:

    Precious, flowers in the attic