The effects of child sexual abuse don’t end in childhood

The effects of child sexual abuse don’t stop in childhood. Without proper intervention and treatment, this issue can rob children of their potential and lead to life-long consequences affecting both victims and communities.

  • Victims of child sexual abuse are more likely to develop substance abuse problems than those who have not been abused. In fact, adult survivors of child sexual abuse are nearly three times more likely to report substance use problems than non-victims.
  • Mental health issues are a common long-term consequence of child sexual abuse. Adult women who were sexually abused as children are more likely to suffer from depression, report a suicide attempt, and develop psychiatric disorders. Seven out of 10 male survivors seek psychological treatment for issues such as substance abuse, suicidal thoughts, and attempted suicide.
  • Studies show that obesity and eating disorders are more common in women who have a history of child sexual abuse. Younger victims are more likely to develop an eating disorder, and middle-aged women are twice as likely to be obese than non-victims.
  • Victims of child sexual abuse can suffer from both minor and life-threatening physical health problems. Adult survivors of child sexual abuse are at greater risk of many health conditions that are potentially psychosomatic in nature, and are more likely to have a serious medical condition such as diabetes, cancer, or heart problems.
  • Adult survivors of child sexual abuse are also more likely to engage in criminal activity. Adult survivors are more than twice as likely to be arrested for a violent offense or a property offense as non-victims.
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    This does not mean that the majority of sexually abused children will develop mental or physical illnesses. It does not mean they will become violent offenders or substance abusers. Many will become productive members of their communities, whether or not they choose to report abuse. However, it’s obvious that effects can be traumatic and long-lasting for both victims and communities.

    The message is clear: preventing child sexual abuse now can and will help communities in the future.

5 Responses to The effects of child sexual abuse don’t end in childhood

  • John says:

    Now I am 50 years old, it has taken 47 years to begin to feel free to be me since the emotional, sexual and physical abuse began. I only began to try to deal with it when I first left home aged 22 and felt free enough to deal with the effects of abuse from my Dad. My Dad died soon after I confronted him about his behaviour, and I was further abused by the so-called care providers in the psychiatric system, and the other victims of Dad’s abuse, my Mom and older brother, who made me the scapegoat of the abuse because they couldn’t face the effects of it on them. I am now determined to use my experiences to help others, from my own efforts of self-care and not from a desire to ‘save’ others as so often happens with abuse survivors. This is only since my Mom died and I have finally cut all contact with my family and I am choosing who I trust and want to be in my life.
    I was born in Toronto where most of the sexual abuse occurred, but when my grade 1 teacher expressed concern about my behaviour and lack of interaction, my Dad got angry with her and before my Mom knew what was happening, he put the house up for sale and gave notice to his employer. 6 months later we were in London, where my parents were from and where my Dad knew that if I was good academically, then teacher didn’t care if I was withdrawn.
    I feel hope and joy of life more often than i have ever felt in my life. There is hope to reduce and punish abuse more effectively when we can learn from survivors how the abusers minds work and so more people can spot signs.

  • meri says:

    Can you provide sources for this? I would like to be able to include this sort of information at court when it comes to sentencing the person who abused my daughter, but I need sources of things that are claimed as fact.

  • Meri, visit http://www.D2L.org/Statistics for more information and source references.

  • Leann says:

    Hi well done for being brave enough to speak out and then to want to help others. Together we are stronger x Leann x

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