Child sexual abuse has immediate and lasting effects. Understanding the effects of abuse underscores the need for and importance of prevention. With over 39 million survivors of child sexual abuse, the time for prevention is now!
"I Wish You Were Only" by @LittleGirl413
If you were just a killer, you would pay a price. I would not have had to sacrifice.
If you were an alcoholic, they would be very concerned, about the terrible things I may have learned.
If you were an addict, you’d have drawn some attention. They would have called for an intervention.
They’d all hate you, if you were a liar and a cheater; Even call you out as a wife beater.
If you beat me, they would take me away, but you left no bruises, so I had to stay.
If you were a thief, they would throw you in jail. And I would be permitted to tell the tale.
But because your crime is so taboo, they look at me and say, “What’s wrong with you?”
Written by @LittleGirl413
“I Wish You Were Only” is one of many poems from the book entitled, “The Monster’s Game”, a poetic look into the child behind the mask of a survivor.
Immediate & Lasting Effects
RAACE has built our mission on the promise that together, we can prevent child sexual abuse before it begins. Unfortunatley, child sexual abuse exists at epidemic proportions and boasts over 39 million survivors. However, knowledge is power. U have the power of prevention!
A Survivor’s Perspective
Survivors of childhood sexual abuse experience an array of overwhelming and intense feelings.14
While each individual’s experiences and reactions are unique, there are some responses to child sexual abuse that are common to many survivors:15
- Low self-esteem or self-hatred
- Survivors may suffer from depression
- Guilt, shame and blame
- Survivors may feel guilt or shame because they made no direct attempt to stop the abuse or because they experienced physical pleasure
- Sleep disturbances / disorders
- Survivors may have trouble sleeping because of the trauma, anxiety or may directly be related to the experience they had as a child; children may be sexually abused in their own beds.
- Lack of trust for anyone
- Many survivors were betrayed by the very people they are dependent upon (family, teachers etc.) who cared for them, who insisted they loved them even while abusing them; learning to trust can be extremely difficult under these circumstances.
- 93% of victims under the age of 18 know their attacker.16
- Many survivors as adults find themselves in abusive, dangerous situations or relationships.
- Woman who were sexually assaulted before the age of 18 [are] twice as likely to report being raped as adults.17
- Many survivors re-experience the sexual abuse as if it were occurring at that moment, usually accompanied by visual images of the abuse. These flashes of images are often triggered by an event, action, or even a smell that is reminiscent of the sexual abuse of the abuser.
- Many survivors go through a process where the mind distances itself from the experience because it is too much for the psyche to process at the time. This loss of connection with thoughts, memories, feelings, actions or sense of identity, is a coping mechanism and may affect aspects of a survivor’s functioning.
- Many survivors have to deal with the fact that their first sexual encounter was a result of abuse. Such memories may interfere with the survivor’s ability to engage in sexual relationships, which may bring about feelings of fright, frustration, or being ashamed.
Adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse often adopt coping mechanisms (or survival strategies) to guard against feelings of terror and helplessness that they may have felt as a child. These past feelings can still have influence over the life and present behavior of an adult survivor. Here are some common coping mechanisms15:
- Alcohol or Drug Abuse
- Disordered Eating/Eating Disorders
It’s Never Too Late to Get Help
If you are an adult dealing with the effects of childhood sexual abuse, please remember that you are not responsible for the abuse and that you are not alone. You can overcome the effects the abuse may have on your life. Please call the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE).
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