Immediate consequences of child sexual abuse

Child sexual abuse is likely the most prevalent health problem with the most serious array of consequences.

close up girls eyes_Small croppedAs parents and youth serving professionals, it’s important to understand the signs of child sexual abuse. They’re not always readily apparent, but they’re often present. There are several emotional and behavioral issues children immediately face as a result of abuse:
 

Emotional and Mental Health Problems

These are often the first indicators of child sexual abuse. Examples include behavioral problems, physical aggression, non-compliance, anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts. Victims may also display “too perfect” or overly compliant behavior.

Sexual Behavior

Children who have been sexually abused have over three times as many sexual behavior problems as non-victimized children. Some of the indicators include age-inappropriate sexual behaviors or language, advanced knowledge of sexual behaviors, and sexual promiscuity.

Academic Issues

Many academic problems can arise due to child sexual abuse, including high absenteeism, change in attitude towards school, lower performance on tests, and lack of interest in friends, sports, and other activities.

Substance Abuse

Substance abuse is one of the most common consequences of child sexual abuse. Alcohol use and dependence is 2 to 3 times more likely among adolescent sexual abuse victims, and drug abuse is even more common than alcohol abuse for abused adolescents.

Delinquency and Criminal Behaviors

Both substance abuse problems and child sexual abuse often lead to delinquency and criminal activities. Sexually abused adolescents have a higher risk for delinquency, are more likely to be arrested, and are nearly twice as likely to run away from home as their non-abused peers.

Teen Pregnancy

The risk of teen pregnancy is also much higher for child sexual abuse victims. Nearly half of pregnant teens report a history of child sexual abuse, and males who are sexually abused are more likely than their non-abused peers to impregnate a teen.

 
The immediate consequences of child sexual abuse can be as serious and life-altering as the abuse itself. However, by shining a light on abuse and taking steps towards prevention, we can help save children and teens from experiencing the negative consequences and traumas of abuse.

5 Responses to Immediate consequences of child sexual abuse

  • if only the adults around me had paid more attention my life might have been different

  • Julie says:

    My father sexually abused me and I became to loathe of my family because I decided to become rebellious to keep my father away from me sexually. He didn’t keep away from me and physically beat and abused me which has caused life lone physical and mental issues. So since everyone knows this is a life long reprocussion – why can’t fathers be held accountable at any time. When I was 31, I faced what had been done to me and that it wasn’t my fault, but his. I worked to forgive him for my own benefit and stayed away from the family for almost 2 decades. I went back into the family, only to be abused financially by my father, I had to fight this with the legal ramifications he would face (fraud) if he was to continue to use me this way. I am out of the family again, and again they all see me as the trouble maker, no one else looks at him or holds him accountable. I have nothing to give any of them, and will continue to live without a family until my death.

  • Fred says:

    you have painted a picture of a mentally ill drug addicted criminal here. I don’t think this is fair to the vast majority of survivors. From where did these indicators come. I think you should reevaluate. For example mental illness? Trauma and PTSS often mimic many mental illnesses, when in fact trauma symptoms are often harder to discern and are really perfectly normal responses to trauma. Things like flat affect and of course the compliance or acting out rebelliously. When it comes to school over achieving and underachieving should be emphasized. For example an extremely intelligent student who takes the hardest classes and dose poorly and displays a flat affect and is extremely compliant except when it comes to doing homework.. With trauma it’s subtleties and the symptoms taken together that is good for assessment. The subtlety and the entire syndrome that could be used for assessment. your list reads more like labeling and shaming rather than a useful assessment tool, which is what I garnered from the articles title.

  • Fred, you are welcome to review our statistics at http://www.d2l.org/site/c.4dICIJOkGcISE/b.6143427/k.38C5/Child_Sexual_Abuse_Statistics.htm.

    Certainly for many children, there are no signs at all. Some, like several of those featured in our Stewards of Children training, are driven to overachieve and display “too perfect” behavior. However, studies consistently show that one or more of the indicators above are often present in sexually abused children. Understanding this and learning to recognize potential red flags and behavioral warning signs allows adults to help them, not shame them.

    Our intent in providing this information is only to help adults understand that while emotional and behavioral changes don’t always signal abuse, they are reasons to take more interest in a child. Many times kids are labeled as bad or difficult, and we don’t realize these behaviors are a symptom of something else.

  • Peggy says:

    I think your list of identifiers are head on. They are however, very similar to individuals who have experience trauma. I am a victim of emotional and mental abuse. I have also experienced repeated trauma in my life. I had to face and deal with my symptoms at the age of 36. Julie, I am sorry that this happened to you. Some people are cruel and irresponsible. They do not admit to their problems therefore, they chose not to get help. I am sure there is a group of people out there who will become your new family. Also, I have learned that all of my cuts, bruises and stitches have made me the beautiful, sensible, and strong person that I am today. Julie everything you have been through have propelled you to your successes. I also came to realize that the definition of family is not simply the people we share biological traits with, they are people who love and respect you. Let the abuse challenge you to help, protect other children and better yourself. “Give the abuser a black eye” by thriving!

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