Police have now released more information about the environment in the home where Amanda Berry's daughter grew up. Cleveland Police Chief Michael McGrath said today that chains and ropes were recovered from the home on Seymour Avenue, but did not say how they were used.
Psychologist Williams said the adjustment of children born in this environment would be "complicated."
He compared the potential scenario to a home where there is physical or verbal abuse. In such cases, children often find ways of coping.
"The mind is amazing," Williams said. "When a child is young, the mind has a way of developing protective factors that mediate and mitigate the harmful psychological effects. And then you add to that resilience. The mind can protect children from harm and damage."
Working in the field of foster care as a Stoneleigh Foundation Fellow, he said, "we have examples of children who have been through worse situations than this 6-year-old girl."
Williams said some children survive with counseling because of their innate resilience. Other children are not so lucky.
"Some are more susceptible and overwhelmed by the experience and have PTSD [post-traumatic stress syndrome]," Williams said.
They might go on to have drug and alcohol addictions, early pregnancies, drop out of school or engage in promiscuous behaviors, "wandering through life languishing," he said.
Abused children can also develop symptoms of depression and are more likely to act out sexually. Boys can act out physically, "repeating the cycle," he said. Children can blame themselves for causing the trauma. "They internalize and think it's their fault," he said.
But Williams cautions that all abused children do not inevitably have a "downward spiral."
As for the Cleveland women and Berry's daughter, he said, "they will face a lot of challenges."
Additional reporting by ABC News' Russell Goldman, Alex Perez and Matt Jaffe.