Child sexual abuse is a prevalent problem in the US, where one in nine girls and one in 53 boys under the age of 18 experience sexual abuse or assault perpetrated by an adult—as reported by RAINN. The effects of this type of abuse are long-lasting, with victims known to have a greater risk of health concerns like drug abuse and depression. If you or someone you love has been a victim of abuse, it is vital to obtain help. Read on to discover the ways in which abuse can wrest from one’s physical and mental health.
Children who have been abused sexually are around four times more likely to abuse drugs. For them, drugs and alcohol can be a way to cope with the physical, sexual, and emotional impact of abuse. Drug addiction in itself is linked to future abuse, since parents who abuse alcohol, heroin, cocaine, and other drugs become less responsible parents who are more likely to be aggressive. Receiving professional psychotherapy is vital if the cycle of abuse is to be ended. Despite this fact, child welfare officials estimated that thousands of neglected and abused children who live with parents with addiction issue never get the help they need because they never turn to authorities for aid.
Children who have been sexually abused have a threefold greater chance of experiencing major depression when they are adolescents and adults. They are also more likely to experience other mental health disorders, including anxiety, psychosis, and PTSD. As found in a study published in BMC Pediatrics, at the age of 10 to 17, the strongest predictor of depression is child abuse. Research also indicates that abuse from a caregiver or parent at home is the type of abuse that has the strongest independent link to depression.
Child sexual abuse impacts sexual health in males and females alike. As reported by Lacelle et al in the Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, women with a history of child abuse and other forms of abuse were more likely to take party in risky sexual problems. They were also more likely to encounter sexual issues and have a negative self-concept. A study published in the Journal of Culture, Health & Sexuality, meanwhile, showed that men who were abused sexually as children were more likely to show hyper-sexualized behaviors. They also had a higher chance of having substance abuse and self-esteem issues.
Children who have experienced abuse should seek help, to avoid the myriad of physical and mental issues that can arise in their future. Trust and self-confidence are the pillars of healthy relationships, yet these need to be rebuilt after experiencing abuse. Under the guiding hand of a psychotherapist, children can receive trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy and other treatments that can help them manage difficult feelings and deal with traumatic memories.
If you or someone you know has experienced sexual abuse as a child, seek help to curtail the negative effects that can ensue. Abuse affects one’s physical and mental health, and can interfere with your chance of having a healthy relationship. Therapy can help you deal with difficult memories, restore self-confidence and trust, and manage distressing feelings more effectively.