Effects of Childhood Sexual Abuse

Sexual Abuse is a violation of power by someone with more power over a person who is vulnerable. This violation takes a sexual form and it involves a breach of trust, a breaking of boundaries and a profound violation of the survivor’s sense of self.

The most important thing to remember is that it is the ‘experience’ of the child and as a child, you are not able to consent in any way, shape or form.

Who is involved?

Sexual abuse happens in all social classes, and it can happen to boys and girls at any age.

It can happen once, a few times or go on for many years and most sexual abuse happens with someone the person knows well.

Victims can be abused by more than one person. The abuser may be a member of the family or someone in a position of trust. Abusers may be male or female and may offer rewards to the person they are abusing.

Areas of adult life commonly affected include

Emotions (depression, mood swings, anxiety and anger) and perceptions of self (guilt, shame, self-hate, unworthiness)

  • Physical difficulties (bladder problems, irritable bowel syndrome)
  • Sexual (frigidity, impotence, identity confusion, lack of, or excessive interest in sex)
  • Relationships with others
  • Learner roles (victim, martyr)
  • Social difficulties (isolation, compulsive behaviour, phobias, anti-social behaviour, violence)
  • Addictions (drugs, alcohol, work), eating disorders and self-harm

Survivors may also suffer from

Disassociation (daydreaming, going somewhere in their heads and spacing out). A sudden regression (childish behaviour eg tantrum, sulking). Disorganised thought processes (forgetting and confusion and sensory impairment (feelings do not match events eg. cold, distant, laughs when sad).