Experiencing sexual abuse as a child can impact someone for the rest of their lives. Having something so traumatic occur during the formative years of childhood can be devastating. Effects can vary in severity, but overall there is almost always a lasting implication, whether mental, emotional, or even physical. In order to fully understand the plight of people that have been abused as children, we’ve outlined a few of the long-term effects of childhood sex abuse.
Depression and Anxiety
Depression is one of the main results of sexual abuse as a child. Many children who are being abused don’t know how to process or understand the abuse, so they internalize it. As they grow older, if the abuse is not addressed, it weighs on them and can manifest itself as depression.
Depression is different than simply being saddened by the abuse they experienced. According to Mayo Clinic, symptoms of depression include:
- Ongoing feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness, or hopelessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame
- Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide
Anxiety is closely related to depression and is quite common in victims as well. As children, they may have never felt truly safe, couldn’t trust others because of an abusive adult, and were scared about what was happening. This can impact the child’s functioning for the rest of their life, causing them to regularly feel nervous, a sense of impending danger, or panic.
Some children blame themselves for the sexual abuse, and feel as though they’ve done something to deserve it. Most children see adults as always right, so the fact that an adult was perpetuating the abuse may cause a child to think they themselves are in the wrong. This results in a very negative self-image, as the child may think they’re bad in some way. Growing up with a sense of disdain for oneself is extremely harmful in the long run.
A strong sense of shame is also associated with childhood sexual abuse, with the child feeling ashamed/dirty about what happened. This mix of emotions can cause an ongoing, negative self-image.
Substance abuse is a common method for people to deal with internal suffering, and victims of childhood sexual abuse experience a lot of this throughout their lives. According to a study done by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, “adults abused as children are four to five times more likely to have abused alcohol and illicit drugs.” (Source)
Negative feelings about themselves and devastating memories of the past can become overwhelming, and some try to quell the sadness with substances. For some, alcohol and drugs can lessen the impact of awful memories and provide temporary relief.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is not just reserved for veterans. Sexual abuse is one of the most traumatic things a child can experience, which is why they can have PTSD later in life. Symptoms of PTSD include phobias, night terrors, and flashbacks. This disorder interferes with normal, daily functioning, impacting the quality of life for the victim.
There are many options for adults who have experienced childhood sexual abuse. They can turn to therapists to process the trauma and be prescribed medication to help with the overwhelming symptoms. If you are dealing with any lasting impacts as an adult due to sexual abuse, we can help you get justice. Hiring a sexual abuse lawyer is the first step towards a sex abuse settlement.
If you or a family member has been sexually abused by a person of authority, whether it is a clergy member from any denomination, youth sports organization, private or public school, daycare, medical professional, University, or any organization supervising children, you can submit your Private and Free claim by visiting https://www.stopsexpredators.com. We are highly experienced and compassionate when dealing with Sex abuse cases and we can keep your identity private throughout the process of holding the abusers and those who helped cover up the abuse accountable. We can help you recover costs for medical and counseling expenses, loss of income due to extended recovery times, loss of companionship with family members, pain and suffering, and emotional distress.