How Does Childhood Sexual Abuse Impact Adult Survivors?
The trauma of sexual abuse drastically changes a child’s life in an instant. In a moment, a child’s trust gets completely violated and taken advantage of in the most horrific way. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), a child is sexually assaulted every nine minutes in the U.S., and 93 percent of the time the victim knew and trusted the perpetrator. This leaves scars that take years, sometimes decades to heal, if ever.
After abuse, children face extreme mental, physical, and emotional challenges, many of which manifest in their behavior or actions. Children who have been abused often display signs of abuse such as difficulty walking or sitting, developing phobias, having nightmares, or shrinking away from physical contact. These warning signs of abuse can, unfortunately, turn into a persistent outcome of abuse if a victim does not receive any treatment or therapy, causing extreme pain and suffering for child victims.
However, the impact of sexual abuse often outlasts a victim’s childhood. Damage caused by childhood sexual abuse can stretch into adult years, affecting nearly every area of a survivor’s mental, emotional, and physical well-being.
Side Effects of Childhood Sexual Abuse
The experts at RAINN and the American Counseling Association (ACA) say adult survivors of child sexual abuse have concerns specific to their experience, including the following:
- Guilt, shame, and blame – Many victims feel guilty about not stopping the abuse or experiencing physical pleasure.
- Difficulty with intimacy and relationships – Because many victims’ first sexual experiences came through abuse, they can struggle with intimacy as an adult. While engaging in consensual sexual activity or intimate relationships, survivors may experience painful memories, flashbacks, or have trouble setting boundaries that help them feel safe.
- Low self-esteem – Victims of child sexual abuse may struggle with low self-esteem from having their personal boundaries violated and receiving negative messages from their abuser. RAINN says low self-esteem can impact different areas of one’s life such as career, health, and relationships.
- Trouble coping with emotions – Memories of abuse can stay around for a long time, and some survivors keep their abuse a secret. The emotions surrounding abuse can be difficult to confront and take an undetermined amount of time to deal with and recover from.
- Body issues and eating disorders – The ACA says child sexual abuse can often impact survivors’ body image, making them feel ugly, dirty, or dissatisfied with their appearance, leading to eating disorders and obesity.
Help for Sexual Abuse Survivors
If you endured sexual abuse as a child, you are not alone or without options for help. Many survivors of sexual abuse choose to connect with legal help to bring their abusers to justice in court. Through filing a civil claim, abusers can be held accountable for their actions against you, and compensation may be awarded to you to help you recover from your injuries.
To speak with a trusted legal representative today about your case, connect with the sexual abuse attorneys at AVA Law Group at 1.800.777.4141. We offer free, no-obligation case evaluations 24/7 for your convenience, and we ensure the information you share with us is kept confidential.