It's 2009 and I recently saw a report on MSNBC about how the tough economic situation in the United States is contributing to a higher incidence of child abuse. You can find bad news all over the Internet. The statistics on child abuse show a little under a million children are victims of neglect and abuse each year in the U.S. In fact, while 3 million accounts of child abuse are reported annually in the U.S. each year, experts estimate the actual number of incidents is about 3 times higher.

Amidst this tide of sad facts, it is hard to find are stories and statistics about overcoming the odds. Who has been able to overcome their wounds of child abuse and gone on to live a happy and healthy life? Is it possible to be successful after abuse? The answer is yes, and the good news is, there are facts and people that prove it.

A Hopeful Look at the Statistics on Child Abuse

There was a study of 400 famous people undertaken by psychologists Victor and Mildred Goertzel in the 1960s. They tried to see if there was a common psychological pattern that could be found in the lives of "eminent" individuals. What kind of homes did they grow up in? What challenges did they face on their way to achieving phenomenal success?

The Goertzels found that of the 400 studied, only a paltry 58 of them came from trouble-free homes. Three-quarters of the so-called successes came from challenging conditions such as a broken home, poverty, abusive and/or dominating parental figures, financial instability, and other non-abusive factors. Over 25% of the 400 overcame a handicap such as blindness (think Helen Keller), deafness, and/or other physical handicaps which drove them to succeed.

By an objective measure, it's fair to say a majority of these eminent individuals had to overcome hardships in order to get where they were, and these included hardships such as child abuse and a broken home.

The People
The Billionaire
Would you guess that the richest African-American woman of the 20th century, Academy Award nominated actress, and someone who was once the world's only black billionaire was molested by a relative as a little girl? She also overcame racial prejudice while growing up in the rural South and the effects of a broken home. When she was six, she was so poor she wore dresses made of potato sacks, enduring the cruel taunts of other children. This famous person is Oprah Winfrey, and she is someone who truly overcame the odds.

The Musician
This musician was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1972 because of outstanding contributions of artistic significance to the field of recording. He was noted for his significant influence on jazz and popular music in general. You may have heard his distinct, gravelly voice on such pop hits as "What A Wonderful World", featured in the movie Good Morning, Vietnam. With this kind of accomplishment under his belt, you may not think that he was the son of an alcoholic father who abandoned the family when he was just a baby. You may also not realize his mother contributed to the unstable home life by leaving him and his sister in the care of relatives until he was five. This famous person is Louis Armstrong, and is another person who overcame the odds.

Now you might say that the only reason Oprah and Louis achieved so much was because they had tremendous amounts of talent which contributed to their success. But you would be ignoring the most important factor. You would be ignoring the one trait that Oprah, Louis, and the rest of the 400 all had in common which led to their success.

The good news is if you don't have it, you can develop it. You can give yourself the trait that all the accomplished people in the Goertzel study had which led to their eventual success. It's the ability to persist in pursuing your own vision and goals.

If you want to continue on your journey of healing from child abuse, please visit

Author's Bio: 

Adam Appleson has been actively involved in using self improvement techniques to promote psychological health and goal-oriented success for the past 11 years. He is the founder of, a website with advice written especially for survivors of abusive and dysfunctional families. offers practical personal development for child abuse survivors trying to carve out a happy life. Subscribe to our free email updates, download free goodies, and browse our articles.