This is part two of a three part article. Refer to the previous post to read more about Part 1.
Children who are victims of sexual abuse can be affected in many ways. The nature and effects of abuse vary from child to child and depend on a number of factors such as the age of the child, the frequency and severity of abuse, the relationship of the abused child to the abuser and the kind of support a child receives from people around her or him after the abuse. Some of these effects can be quite severe and can continue into adulthood.
Possible immediate physical effects
- Difficulty in walking
- Gastrointestinal disturbances including nausea, eating disorders, ulcers and stomach cramps
- Pain, swelling or tearing of tissue
- Changes in the genital area of the body such as pain, itching, visible injury, discharge, infection, or difficulty urinating.
- Bruises, cuts and other injuries on any part of the body for which the cause is not clear and the child cannot explain fully
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs). STIs may occur at the time of abuse and then lie dormant for months or even years, only to flare up in adolescence or adulthood
Possible emotional/behavioral effects in childhood
- Age-inappropriate behavior such as thumb-sucking, scratching and picking at skin or nails
- Self-injurious behavior, tics, enuresis, speech problems
- Conduct disturbances
- Compulsive and inappropriate sex-play and sexual activities, sexually aggressive behavior with peers, adults, toys, animals, and age inappropriate sexual awareness
- Depression and anxiety issues such as fears and phobias
- Nightmares and sleep disturbances
- Eating disorders
- Impaired social interaction and academic problems
Possible effects in adolescence and adulthood
- Anxiety, depression and disassociation
- Rebellious and delinquent behavior
- Depression and low self-esteem
- Eating disturbances resulting in weight loss or gain
- Withdrawal and isolation
- Self-mutilation and suicidal ideation
- Sexual promiscuity, substance abuse and impaired interpersonal relationships
Ok so we’ve talked about myths of CSA we’ve read about how it can affect children. But how do we approach such children without causing more harm….How can we protect them? Stay connected to learn more in the next post.