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Inspiring Compassion

Impact of Abuse

Sexual abuse has LIFELONG EFFECTS on exploited children.

Being sexually abused as a child will impact deeply with long-term effects. Some abused children are severely damaged, both physically and emotionally; others recuperate without obvious dysfunctions and can go on with their lives. Many repress their experiences but risk developing social and sexual distortions. Offenders often claim to have been abused themselves to attain sympathy, but recent studies suggest that the number who were former victims is vastly exaggerated.

Sexual abuse is a private wound, seldom revealed to even the child’s closest friends and relatives. Some children who disclose the abuse to an adult they trust are met with disbelief and blame. This unloving reaction deepens their distrust in adults and intensifies their anxiety. Many sexually abused children attempt suicide to escape the pain; many succeed in ending their own lives. The abused children who don’t take their own lives may harm themselves in other ways, such as through alcohol or drug abuse.

Many children carry the scars of abuse late into adulthood. Trying to engage in a healthy adult relationship becomes a challenge, as memories of abuse surface during instances of intimacy with their partners. Some victims develop an aversion to sexual contact. On the opposite end of the spectrum, some victims confuse sex with love or with exchanging care.

Emotional Effects

  • Anxiety
  • Anger
  • Blame
  • Denial
  • Depression
  • Distress
  • Frustration
  • Guilt
  • Low self-esteem
  • Self-hatred or self-loathing
  • Shock
  • Sympathy and pity toward offender
  • Vengefulness
  • Emotionally withdrawn
  • Worthlessness

Physical Effects

  • Bleeding in the genital and anal area
  • Bruises in the genital and anal area
  • Difficulty walking
  • Itching in the genital area
  • Pregnancy
  • Self-harm injuries (such as from suicide attempts)
  • Significant weight gain or loss (from appetite disturbances)
  • Sleep problems

Behavioral Effects

  • Alcohol and substance abuse
  • Aggression
  • Bedwetting
  • Delinquency
  • Disrupted peer relations
  • Eating disorders
  • Hostility
  • Hyperactivity
  • Impaired trust
  • Lying
  • Nightmares
  • Phobias
  • Running away from home
  • Sexualized behavior
  • Self-harm or self-mutilation
  • Suicidal thoughts and attempt

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