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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Comments

  1. Beth  January 27, 2019

    The movie Split

    reply
    • Heidi  January 27, 2019

      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.

      reply
      • Michelle  January 29, 2019

        She may have suggested this movie because of the girl, not the person suffering from DID.

        reply
  2. Trinity  January 27, 2019

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

    reply
  3. Trinity  January 27, 2019

    Colour purple.

    reply
    • Amber  January 29, 2019

      Definitely. That was one of my picks.

      reply
  4. Tiffany  January 27, 2019

    Mommy Dearest

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  5. Summer Hall  January 27, 2019

    Mommy Dearest

    reply
  6. Patty  January 27, 2019

    August Osage County and Mommy Dearest

    reply
  7. Summer Hall  January 27, 2019

    Mommy Dearest.

    reply
  8. Summer Hall  January 27, 2019

    Oops… sorry for double-post, folks! lol

    reply
    • Valerie  January 27, 2019

      Gaslight

      reply
  9. Jenny  January 27, 2019

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

    reply
  10. Hayley Whittle  January 27, 2019

    CARRIE! .

    reply
  11. Nicole  January 27, 2019

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

    reply
  12. Amy  January 27, 2019

    Radio Flyer

    reply
  13. David  January 27, 2019

    Magdalen Sisters

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  14. Cari  January 27, 2019

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

    reply
  15. Rhonda  January 27, 2019

    Room

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  16. Anne  January 27, 2019

    Precious.

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  17. Juanita  January 27, 2019

    Flowers in the attic , Precious

    reply
  18. Renee Cherowitz  January 27, 2019

    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.

    reply
  19. Anna  January 27, 2019

    Rambling Rose with Laura Dern.

    reply
  20. sal  January 27, 2019

    Goodnight Mr tom

    reply
  21. Sue  January 27, 2019

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

    reply
  22. Allison  January 27, 2019

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

    reply
  23. Cherrie  January 27, 2019

    I would add Running with Scissors

    reply
  24. Liz  January 27, 2019

    War Zone

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  25. Erin  January 27, 2019

    FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC

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  26. Gina  January 27, 2019

    The war zone.

    reply
  27. Trina R Ford  January 28, 2019

    Radio Flyer

    reply
  28. Trina R Ford  January 28, 2019

    Bastard out of Carolina

    reply
  29. Peggy  January 28, 2019

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

    reply
  30. Leanne  January 28, 2019

    The Glass Castle

    reply
  31. Tom  January 28, 2019

    The Great Santini
    Ordinary People

    reply
  32. Sam  January 28, 2019

    “When Rabbit Howls”

    reply
  33. Sam  January 28, 2019

    “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)

    reply
  34. Lisa  January 28, 2019

    Bastard out of Carolina

    reply
  35. Louise  January 28, 2019

    I Can Only Imagine

    reply
  36. Cheryl  January 28, 2019

    Prince of Tides

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  37. Nikita  January 28, 2019

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

    reply
  38. sancho  January 28, 2019

    Mystic River

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  39. Diane  January 28, 2019

    Not Cinderella’s Type

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  40. Jo  January 28, 2019

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

    reply
  41. Monica  January 28, 2019

    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.

    reply
  42. Shannyn  January 28, 2019

    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.

    reply
  43. Tonya Renee  January 28, 2019

    Mommy Dearest

    reply
  44. Mechelle  January 28, 2019

    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

    reply
  45. Liz  January 28, 2019

    The War Zone. Not an easy one to watch.

    reply
  46. Liz  January 28, 2019

    The War Zone – not an easy one to watch.

    reply
  47. Liz  January 28, 2019

    Sorry for the multiple posts!

    reply
  48. Michael  January 28, 2019

    Angela’s Ashes

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  49. Elise  January 28, 2019

    Precious

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  50. kim ducharme  January 28, 2019

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

    reply
  51. Julie  January 28, 2019

    “A Thousand Acres”

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  52. Summer Hall  January 28, 2019

    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.

    reply
  53. Ellen  January 29, 2019

    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.

    reply
    • Roland  January 29, 2019

      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.

      reply
  54. sancho  January 29, 2019

    Mystic River
    The Book of Henry

    reply
  55. misty  January 29, 2019

    Bastard out of carolina
    Enough
    Freedom writers

    reply
  56. Valerie  January 30, 2019

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

    reply
  57. Sarah  January 30, 2019

    For my daughters honour (also released as indecent seduction)

    reply
  58. Anita O Shea  February 1, 2019

    mommy dearest

    reply
  59. Ayesha  February 20, 2019

    Precious, flowers in the attic

    reply

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