“The Care and Help You Deserve”
Effects of Childhood Sexual Abuse
As a insightful and compassionate Toronto Trauma Psychotherapist I invite you to read some of the information I have compiled here to help you or someone you care about to understand the effect of Childhood Sexual Abuse.
Sexual assault is far more common than most would believe. It is estimated that 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted during their lifetime. 15% of sexual assault victims are boys under 16. The long-term effects of childhood sexual abuse on adult functioning have been well documented including affective disorders, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress symptomatology, self-destructive behaviors, and disturbed interpersonal relationships.
The experience will alter a child’s cognitive and emotional orientation to the world and distort the child’s self-concept, and view of the world. Negative feelings of “badness, shame, and guilt” affect the child as they develop. As an adult you may experience a low sense of efficacy (ability to achieve and succeed).
Coping abilities are an important element in understanding the long-term functioning of individuals with a history of child sexual abuse. Symptoms in adulthood may include eating disorders, self-injury, and victimization in adulthood. Children who have experienced sexual abuse or hostility have difficulty trusting and feeling safe with others. Survivors can experience difficulties regulating their emotions, including managing feelings of anger and other potentially overwhelming emotions.
Symptoms of Childhood Sexual Abuse
Feelings of extreme shame and self-blame are common. Often, the sexually abused person blocks out memory of the abuse. A survivor may remember all the details, but not the emotions, or sensations. Or, the survivor may have emotions and physical sensations, but is unable to connect them to any memory of the details.
Chronic depression is a common response to childhood sexual abuse. Individuals with a history of child sexual abuse are also more likely to develop anxiety disorders, problems with identity, and post-traumatic stress disorder (a sense of re-experiencing a past trauma) among other symptoms. One may have a constant feeling that something bad going to happen. One may have fears and phobias.
The effects of early sexual abuse lasts well into adulthood, affecting relationships, work, family, and life in general. Often individuals of childhood sexual abuse need to regain control over their lives. Research on the treatment for survivors of sexual abuse indicates that it is helpful for the survivor to move from “victim” to “survivor”.
Toronto Psychotherapy for Childhood Sexual Abuse
Childhood experiences of sexual abuse increases an individual’s vulnerability to a range of physical, psychological, and behavioral impairments. Other factors that contribute to symptoms is the how functional or dysfunctional the child’s family is in general. Other early experiences will contribute to the symptomotology.
Psychotherapy can help an individual recover from childhood sexual abuse through the examination of the past and the present. The form of abuse, the age it took place and whether one had emotional support will affect how one will be coping with the experience.
The main objective of psychotherapy for childhood sexual abuse is to help the individual separate past events from the way the individual thinks about who they are, and their value in the world. The belief that “I am what happened to me,” or “I caused or deserved it,” is common and must be addressed continuously throughout the therapy.
The duration of treatment will vary from person to person, based on the age at which the abuse occurred, the frequency, and type of abuse suffered, the relationship a person had or has with the perpetrator(s), and the person’s internal coping strategies for handling it.
As the therapy progresses, the individual begins to act and feel more confident and secure. One will develop a greater sense of control, and learn how to identify and manage his or her emotions. Some of the key goals of psychotherapy are to help the person develop a positive body image, and a greater ability to love and experience love from others.
Toronto Trauma Psychotherapist
Many individuals experience more than one form of child maltreatment, a phenomenon referred to as multitype abuse. Children abuse survivors could have also experienced physical abuse, psychological abuse, and neglect. Victims of childhood sexual abuse suffer from a variety of short and long-term consequences in cognitive, affective, and behavioral realms.
Many individuals have somatic complaints relating to the body such as eating and sleep disturbances. One may have social adjustment problems resulting in having fewer friends and social contacts. You may feel isolated, and different from others around you. You may experience more than average impulsivity, emotional instability, and difficulty in relationships.
Studies of childhood abuse have been typically concentrated in the area of psychological effects. Studies have shown that sexual abuse in childhood was associated with a broad range of health problems in adulthood and bodily pain symptoms. Studies show an increase in risky behaviors such as smoking, alcohol and drug use, less engagement with preventive health care.
Our delicate work together is focused on healing from the past and working through any residual effects of the abuse so that you can move forward in your life much more comfortably and confidently.