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Long-term impacts of childhood sexual abuse

With as many as 1 in every 10 children facing sexual abuse at the hands of an adult before their 18th birthday (Darkness to Light Org.) child sexual abuse is an atrocity that plagues contemporary society. It is a crime that is perpetrated by manipulating the loving and trusting nature of a child, that severely violates their body, mind and spirit. It is an extremely traumatic experience that has the potential to impact a survivor psychologically, emotionally and/ or physically. Sadly, without the required support and education, a child survivor is extremely vulnerable to the process of revictimisation in their adolescence and/ or adulthood.

There is no single defining symptom prevalent among all survivors-- the severity and nature of the impact itself are affected by a range of variables including the extent and duration of the abuse; the possibility that the child has been subjected to other forms of abuse in addition to CSA; the extent of the support rendered in the healing process; individual differences, all play a role in determining the impact of child sexual abuse on a survivor.

Therefore, the long term impacts of CSA can include, but are not limited to the following: 

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

  • Anxiety. 

  • A low sense of self-esteem and worth. 

  • Developmental hindrances. 

  • Risky decision making and behaviour. 

  • Issues of intimacy and trust in interpersonal relationships. 

  • A higher risk of being subjected to intimate partner violence. 

  • A high risk of veering towards substance abuse. 

  • Self-harming tendencies. 

  • Suicide ideation. 

  • A great risk of committing suicide. 

Understanding the long term impacts of child sexual abuse is important because it provides us with the vital knowledge required to facilitate a survivor’s healing process. 

However, prevention is always better than cure-- so let us make it our responsibility to ensure that no child should ever have to heal from such trauma by pledging to be alert, always speak up and #ProtectEveryChild.

For more information, feel free to peruse the following resources: 
 

Abuse Law Suit, n.d. Long-term Effects of Child Sex Abuse. [online] Available at < Long-term Effects Of Child Sexual Abuse And Molestation (abuselawsuit.com)

Cashmore, J. and Shackel, R.,2013. The Long-term effects of child sexual abuse. [PDF]. Australian Institute of Family Studies. Available at https://aifs.gov.au/cfca/publications/long-term-effects-child-sexual-abuse 

Darkness to Light, n.d. Child Abuse Statistics. [online]. Available at https://www.d2l.org/child-sexual-abuse/statistics/ 

Darkness to Light, n.d. The Impact of Child Sexual Abuse. [online]. Available at< https://www.d2l.org/child-sexual-abuse/impact/

Hall, M. and Hall, J.,2011. The Long-Term Effects of Childhood Sexual Abuse: Counseling Implication. [PDF]. American Counselling Association. Available at < https://www.counseling.org/docs/disaster-and-trauma_sexual-abuse/long-term-effects-of-childhood-sexual-abuse.pdf?sfvrsn=2