Despite the stress I go through in the camp where I am currently under going my Nysc orientation, I try so hard to make sure I still research, write and post. So, like I promised in my last post, I would be talking about long term effects of sexual abuse on children and different strategies employed by them to cope with the sexual abuse.
Below are the long term effects of sexual abuse on children.
– Intimacy and relationship : it’s possible that your (victims) with sex came as a result of sexual abuse. As an adult, intimacy might be a struggle at times. Survivors may also struggle to set boundaries that help them feel safe in relationships.
– Self – esteem : you may struggle with low self – esteem, which can be a result of the negative message you received from your abuser(s), and having your personal safety violated or ignored. Low self – esteem can affect many different areas of your life such as your relationships, your career, and even your health.
– Long term impacts on mental health : there have been numerous studies examine the association between a history of child sexual abuse and mental health problems in adult life that have employed clinical samples.
There is now an established body of knowledge clearly linking a history of child sexual abuse with higher rate in adult life of depressive systoms, anxiety systoms, substance abuse disorder, post – traumatic stress disorder
– Drug abuse and alcoholism
– Difficult with intimacy
– Sexual confusion or promiscuity as a result of not dealing with emotions and feelings surrounding the abuse. Most times the abused instead of having a relationship with the opposite sex, they result in having experimental relationships with their same sex because they feel it’s safer.
– Poor body image because the body was the instrument used during the sexual abuse.
1) Trouble sleeping, anxiety, depression.
2) Damaged goods syndrome- negative body image due to self-blame. This may be intensified if physical pain was experienced during the abused incidents.
3) Sexual difficulties such as fear of sex or intimacy, indiscriminate multiple sex partners, or difficulty in reaching orgasim.
4) Parenting problems such as fear of being a bad parent, or fear of abusing the child or being over protective.
LEGAL ACTION – Suspicious of child sexual abuse should be reported to a child protective service agency or law enforcement agency. The law requires professionals who work with children to report suspected neglect or abuse.
In addition to reporting child sexual abuse to the authorities, victims can sue their abuse in a civil court to recover monetary damages or win other remedies. Many states have extended their criminal and civil statues of limitation for child sexual abuse cases. In addition the delayed discovery rule suspends the status of limitation if the victim had repressed all memory of the abuse or was unaware that the abuse caused current problems.
STRATEGIES USED BY CHILDREN TO COPE WITH SEXUAL ABUSE.
– Fragmentation of personality ( hiding the past to keep the experience out of conscious awareness). Repressed memory.
– Denial stage- they try to make themselves believe it never happened to them and it was all a dream.
– Refraining strategies :
1) Rationalizing – the common reaction is that children believes they are bad and deserves to be punished.
2) Minimization – the victim reduces the experience to the smallest possible effect. Often used when denial fails. Eg ” my uncle does hit me occasionally, but I’ve been through far worse.
Dr. Berman stresses out in her book the importance bringing the abuse to light and hopes victims will feel more comfortable coming forward.
Victims need to know that are not alone and help is available, but most importantly healing is definitely possible.