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Effects of Childhood Sexual Abuse

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We have a crisis in the United States when it comes to child sexual abuse. Nearly one out of every ten children will be sexually abused before they reach their 18th birthday. We also know that as many as 93% of child sexual abuse survivors knew the person who abused them. Their abusers often include teachers, mentors, and members of the clergy. Around 30% of abuse survivors are abused by members of their own families.

survivors of child sexual abuse suffer from both immediate and long-lasting consequences. Today, we want to briefly discuss how child abuse survivors are affected and why it is so important for those responsible for the abuse to be held accountable for their actions.

Short Term Effects of Child Sexual Abuse

Short term effects of child sexual abuse can last up to two years. Survivors of child sexual abuse may exhibit a range of symptoms, including:

  • Regressive behaviors (thumb-sucking and bedwetting they had outgrown)
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Eating disorders
  • Behavioral and/or performance problems in school
  • Unwillingness to participate in social activities
  • Lose self-esteem and feelings of worthlessness
  • Distorted views about sex

Children who have experienced rape or attempted rape in their adolescent years are 13.7 times more likely to be re-victimized by approximately 1,000%.

Longer-Term Effects

Longer-term effects can follow a childhood sexual abuse survivor for their entire life.

Depression has been found to be the most common symptom amongst childhood sexual abuse survivors. They often think negatively about themselves, developing feelings of worthlessness. This can lead to them avoiding social situations altogether. Survivors of childhood sexual abuse often isolate themselves later in life.

Child sexual abuse survivors tend to display more self-destructive behaviors and have higher rates of suicide than those who have not been abused.

Other long-term symptoms displayed in childhood sexual abuse victims include:

  • Fear and anxiety towards anyone or any situation that shares characteristics to the abuser or the abuse circumstances
  • Difficulty in adult/intimate relationships
  • Difficulty in sexual functions
  • Eating and body disorders
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Feelings of powerlessness

These signs and symptoms will vary from person to person and can occur at any age.

Seeking Help from Qualified Professionals

It is important to note that every victim of childhood sexual abuse experiences symptoms differently. In some cases, the symptoms develop as soon as the abuse occurs and continues into adulthood. On other cases, the symptoms of childhood sexual abuse do not appear until later in life.

Many abuse survivors dissociate from the abuse as a coping mechanism. Sometimes, they may even forget that the abuse took place, particularly if they were very young when the abuse occurred. However, these symptoms can appear at any time.

It is important that survivors of childhood sexual abuse seek assistance in the form of counseling to work through what has happened to them. Survivors can use counseling and therapy as a safe way to explore what happened to them and work to diminish the symptoms they are experiencing.

Reporting abuse

If you are a parent or guardian and you discover that your child had been abused, seek assistance from law enforcement. If you are an adult who was abused as a minor, you may need to speak with a person injury attorney about your options. While an arrest or a lawsuit will not erase the trauma you experienced, it can help bring some closure to the situation. Contact DiMarco | Araujo | Montevideo today to speak with qualified lawyer during a free consultation.