Individual Costs of Sexual Abuse

The Individual Effects of Sexual Abuse on Children

It may take decades to understand the long-term effects of childhood sexual abuse. Because the trauma is so great, many people block out the abuse or are unable to connect the abuse to the difficulties they have experienced throughout their lives. The consequences for every individual survivor will vary depending on whether he or she had a support system, whether the abuser was stopped early on, and whether the individual was able to confront the abuser.

Victims of child sexual abuse or child molestation are much more likely to suffer long-term psychological and emotional problems. It is common for victims to have anger and depression problems, sexual problems, drug and alcohol dependency, antisocial behavior, and other difficulties throughout their lives. Many studies have shown that sexual abuse at an early age can actually have enduring effects on brain development and function.

The long-term effects of abuse may include:

  • Fear, anxiety, or depression
  • Anger, hostility, or aggression
  • Inappropriate sexual behavior
  • Self-destructive behavior
  • Drug abuse
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Tendency towards re-victimization (increased likelihood of abuse by another abuser)
  • Sexual maladjustment (compulsion, addiction, or extreme aversion)
  • Flashbacks (post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD))
  • Marital difficulties
  • Loss of the ability to trust

Emotional Effects: Therapy Can Help

There are a number of ways to cope with abuse. Many types of sexual abuse therapy have been shown to help victims regain control over their lives. However, traditional talk therapy for victims of child abuse may not be enough; most experts believe a combination of cognitive and behavioral therapy is best. Both therapies work together to remove the power that traumatic memories hold over people. Eventually, the therapies aim to free survivors from the anxiety and depression that have plagued their lives.

Cognitive therapy works to change thoughts about the abuse that are self-defeating and simply incorrect, such as thoughts that the victims are in any way to blame for the abuse. Behavioral therapy tries to change the behaviors, such as heavy drinking, that often come with the emotional and mental effects of child sexual abuse.

Mental Effects: Bringing the Offender to Justice Can Also Help

Many people find it very therapeutic to bring those who abused them to justice. Tim has devoted years to fighting sexual abusers in an effort to provide justice and protection against future abuse for survivors.

Contact Tim.  All conversations will be kept confidential.

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