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The Effect of Child Sexual Abuse


The effects of child sexual abuse to the victims may vary. Trauma is the initial experience but after a considerable period of time, long term consequences will begin to surface. The kind of support, help, and assistance the victim gets will determine his/her future as an individual. For many of them, getting over the experience is very difficult to a point that their entire lives are consumed by it. For others meanwhile, it only takes courage and strength to overcome it and eventually heal the wounds and start building a new life.

Anyway, the distinctiveness of every case of sexual abuse and exploitation determines the extent of damage brought to the victim. While some endure and heal overtime, others may need years to come back. Nonetheless, no matter what type or how serious or grave the sexual abuse is, the following are most frequent and usual effects:

The Effect on a Victim’s Emotional Health

The emotional state of the victim of child sexual abuse can be affected weeks, months, or even years after the actual abuse. The first response would be trauma. But right after that, the child victim will start to manifest emotional consequences of his/her experience. Unfortunately, most of these consequences are long-term.

One of the initial responses of the victim is fear. Because of fear, disorders like anxiety and depression start to appear. When they are subjected to both of these problems, their overall emotional health is affected. When they become pretty unstable mentally and emotionally, they begin to show more effects of the sexual abuse such, but not limited to:

– Drug and alcohol abuse

– Abnormal and improper sexual behavior

– Aggressive behavior towards others, primarily through the expression of anger and hostility

– Self-destruction and suicidal tendencies

– Relationship problems like being unable to cope up with a marital relationship or inability to socialize with other people and;

– Post-traumatic stress disorder

The Effect on a Victim’s Faith

In the article “When Faith Hurts: Overcoming Spirituality-Based Blocks and Problems”, it was found out that 527 of victim respondents of child abuse incurred a “spiritual” type of damage and wound like a feeling of guilt, anger, despair, and especially doubt. The victims have come upon the mentality of doubting their religious faith and belief. It becomes common for them to ask God “why was I abused and what did I do to deserve it?” And as soon as they realize that there is no easy answer to it, they start to think that God and the entire religion they believe in is really unfair and unjust. Trusting God and holding on to their faith becomes almost impossible to do because of the emotional trauma they are experiencing.

Furthermore, when the abuser is a member of the clergy, the extent of the damage becomes a lot worse. If it is proven that a priest, pastor, or a religious minister is guilty of sexually abusing a child, the credibility and reputation of the entire congregation or church are questioned not only by the victim, but the most of the followers.

The Effect on a Victim’s Relationships with Others

Among the effects of child sexual abuse, the future relationship of the victims to other people, even those close to them, is the most affected. Not only does a victim exhibit an entirely different personality, he/she may also develop a tendency to be hesitant in meeting other people and making new friends. The lack of the ability to trust someone becomes a great hindrance for the victim to be able to build relationships with other people. In fact, those who grow up and marry someone may still cast doubt and distrust to his/her spouse.

Additionally, negative peer involvement is obviously visible for many victims. This includes an anti-social behavioral tendency wherein they are more likely to avoid other people and engagement in social activities. Remember that these effects may either show when the victim is still a child, teenager, or even when he/she is already a complete adult.

Finally, there are still certain ways on how to manage the effects of child sexual abuse. One important thing to put in mind though is to act fast. As soon as you find out about the abuse, the victim must be subjected to healing treatments and therapies. Talking to them can be helpful but it isn’t enough especially if the abuse has been carried out many times. Cognitive and behavioral therapies for instance will help the victim endure the trauma and start regaining control of his/her life.

Source by Grant Carroll

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