This is the part three of this Child sexual abuse series and whenever I read it, I don’t know, I learn alot and get so sad at what is happening in the world…Please read and be aware, only awareness can help us reduce and hopefully stop this epidemic.
What are the effects of CSA?
The problem with CSA is not just the event that occurred but the effects it has on a victim/survivor. It is something that can hamper a person’s life forever if they do not get help. While each individual’s experience is unique and CSA can have different effects on each person, some common effects are:
– 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.
– Flashbacks: 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.
– Dissociation: 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.
– Sexuality / Intimacy: 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 guards 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 behaviour of an adult survivor. Here are some common coping mechanisms:
– Sexual Promiscuity– Grieving / Mourning: Many things were — childhood experiences, trust, innocence, relationships with family members. The survivor may feel a deep sadness, jealousy, anger or longing for something never had.
– Alcohol or drug Abuse: The abuse of substances can act as an escape from the intense waves of feelings, the terror and helplessness.
– Disordered Eating / Eating Disorders: Compulsive control of food intake can be a way of taking back control over the body that was denied during the abuse.
– Self-Injury: There are many ways survivors have coped with the feelings that can cause emotional or physical injury on the self. Burning or cutting is some ways for a survivor to relieve intense anxiety, triggered by memories of the abuse.
– There is also research that many gay men and lesbian women experienced sexual abuse by someone of the same sex when they were children. Therefore there might be a relationship between these two.Written by Biebele Alex-Hart