Let's look into some movies showcasing child abuse. A tentative warning here that certain movies might be triggering for you.
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.
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.
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, 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—related to child abuse or neglect—you would add to this list?
The movie Split
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.
She may have suggested this movie because of the girl, not the person suffering from DID.
(Yes. Sleepers, good will hunting) Gerald’s game-awesome movie. Flowers in the attic. Girl interrupted.
Definitely. That was one of my picks.
August Osage County and Mommy Dearest
Oops… sorry for double-post, folks! lol
Martian Child was excellent, and did a great job of showing a child struggling with disassociation, etc.
They’re not movies but docuseries The Keepers and The Examination of Conscience on Netflix
How about Mommie Dearest? 1981 movie with Faye Dunaway, that movie is something else!
Flowers in the attic , Precious
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.
Rambling Rose with Laura Dern.
Goodnight Mr tom
Room ….. very emotional movie! Told through the eyes of the abducted Mother and her 5 year old son!
The Outsiders (1983); This Property is Condemned (1966) w/ Natalie Wood
I would add Running with Scissors
FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC
The war zone.
Bastard out of Carolina
The Prince of Tides, Great Expectations, Dead Poet’s Society, Radio Flyer, Precious, Matilda, The Cell
The Glass Castle
The Great Santini
“When Rabbit Howls”
“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)
Bastard out of Carolina
I Can Only Imagine
Prince of Tides
This Boy’s Life (childhood memoir) was important for my brother and me when young to conceptualise some of the abuse/isolation.
Not Cinderella’s Type
Short term 12 is a beautiful movie about adolescents in residential care and their family backgrounds. Highly recommend!
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.
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.
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
The War Zone. Not an easy one to watch.
The War Zone – not an easy one to watch.
Sorry for the multiple posts!
Mysterious Skin is one I use to demonstrate the complexity for children and the fact that sexual abuse can happen to any family…..
“A Thousand Acres”
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.
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.
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.
The Book of Henry
Bastard out of carolina
Stand by Me & Forrest Gump are not directly about abuse but do demonstrate the devastating life long effects it on its victims
For my daughters honour (also released as indecent seduction)
Precious, flowers in the attic
Glass Castle and Cracked Up
Documentary about sexual abuse in a Catholic girls high school and the murder of Sister Kathy, the nun who found out about the abuse. As older adults, some of the former students investigate the murder and seek to hold the abusers accountable. Very well done and shows empowered women who are not afraid of standing up to a huge institution.