Sexual Assault and Childhood Sexual Abuse
Anyone can experience sexual violence regardless of age, sex, or sexual orientation. The survivor may experience ongoing traumatic effects whether a person is assaulted by a stranger, a family member, or a partner.
The effects of early sexual abuse can last well into adulthood, affecting relationships, work, family, and life in general. Survivors of sexual abuse may have low self-esteem, depression, guilt, shame, grief, an inability to trust, difficulty forming relationships, anxiety, fear, panic attacks, and a sense of being different.
If you are a survivor of Incest – It is critical to understand that what happened to you is NOT your fault! You are not responsible for the abusive actions of another person.
Identifying Abused Children
No child is psychologically prepared to deal with sexual abuse. Even very young children may sense that the sexual activity is "wrong," but they are unable to stop it. Children are frequently threatened that if they tell anyone, they will be killed or sent away, or their whole family will breakup.
Over time, the child develops low self-esteem, feelings of being worthless or "dirty," and an abnormal view of sexuality. How do you recognize such children? There are many signs. Some include:
- Withdrawal and mistrust of adults
- Difficulty relating to others except in sexual or seductive ways
- Sleep problems, nightmares, fears of going to bed
- Frequent accidents or self-injurious behaviors such as biting or cutting
- Refusal to go to school, to the doctor, or home
- Unusual habits such as rocking.
- Unusual sexual knowledge or behavior
- Extreme fear of being touched
- Unwillingness to submit to physical examination
Individuals who have experienced a sexual assault or childhood sexual
abuse often express fear that they will have to give their therapist a detailed account of their abuse. This is not the case. The client decides how much to share about his or her
abuse, and when.