Child Sexual Abuse can be devastating for children! They may have tried to tell their adults but met with disappointment and felt there was no one they could trust. For many reasons, the effects of sexual abuse can happen even many years after the abuse has taken place.
Repeated habit of blaming and seeing sex as a taboo, makes a child think that the sexual abuse was also her/his fault. The child knows something is wrong and blames himself for the abuse.
Since we have made a taboo of the subject, the offender is successful in bribing or threatening the child to keep it a secret and say that if they tell anyone, something bad will happen to them or their family members. The child is afraid to share in fear of what the consequences might be - punishment, blame, abandonment or not being believed.
Children may feel angry towards the abuser and also towards others who they feel, failed to protect them.
Children often feel that they have no control or authority over their own bodies. It is available for anyone to use it the way they like. They feel that they have no choices available to them.
Kids who have been abused feel they are different from the others 'normal' kids and may keep themselves away from all. They can't share what has happened to them, nor can they ask anyone for help.
The abuser often makes the child feel responsible for keeping the abuse a secret or, for the abuse happening. Sometimes the child also feels responsible to keep the family together and the burden of this responsibility interferes with experiencing a normal childhood.
Children feel betrayed because they are dependent on adults for protection and the abuser is someone who they should be able to love and trust. They may also feel betrayed by a passive parent who they feel has failed to protect them.
Children may feel depressed due to a sense of loss, especially if the abuser was loved and trusted by the child.
Children dream or get nightmares even while they are awake. These are a re-experience of the sexual abuse and the child may experience all the feelings again which they felt at the time.
Long Term Effects:-
1. Depression, anxiety, sleep problems.
2. Low self-esteem.
3. Negative body image due to self-blame.
4. Inability to trust, poor social skills.
5. Self-destructive behaviour such as alcohol or drug abuse or suicide attempts.
6. Fear of being a bad parent since their parents couldn't protect them, or fear of abusing the child or being overprotective.
7. Fear during intimacy or difficulty in reaching orgasm.
8. Victims of child abuse have higher rates of victimization.
Not all children who experience sexual abuse experience these difficulties - family support and strong peer relationships appear to be important in helping them to deal with the situation and their physical and mental health.
Take care of your child and also raise your voice if you see another child experiencing something remotely similar to child abuse!
To read our complete series on Child Sexual Abuse, click here:
What Must You Know About Child Sexual Abuse?, The Essential 5 Step Guide to empower your child against Child Sexual Abuse?, How to protect your child protect him/herself from child sexual abuse?, How to find out if your child has been sexually abused?