Sexual abuse has been a predicament that many individuals have been facing. According to the researches that have been conducted, at least two out of every ten female adults have been abused sexually by the time they reach the age of eighteen years (Magolin and Vickerman, 2007). Initially, it was believed that women are the only ones who were the victims of sexual abuse. However, numerous cases involving men as victims have since been reported. Sexual abuse is a serious offense. It tends to affect the individual psychologically and emotionally. This leads to the development of posttraumatic stress disorder in an individual.
Victims of sexual abuse normally find it difficult to cope with the situation. Sexual abuse, therefore, affects their lives from the time of abuse to the time when the survivors become adults. In addition, there is a high likelihood that the physical and emotional states of the victims will also be affected. From the studies that have been conducted, it has been found that victims of sexual abuse stand a high chance of developing psychological and health disorders in their adult life as compared to individuals who have not been sexually abused (Cromer and Sachs-Ericsson, 2006).
Children and adolescents who have been victims of sexual abuse exhibit increased fear of their safety and that of other individuals to whom they are related and high states of anxiety as the main cognitive characteristics. Physically, individuals who have been victims of sexual abuse show a slow and disrupted growth as compared to other individuals of the same age group. These individuals also tend to have low self-esteem and poor social skills. Some of them sexually abuse other children as a means of redeeming their personality and coping with the posttraumatic stress that they are facing. Studies have shown that 72% of individuals who have been convicted on the counts of sexual abuse have been victims of sexual abuse in their early years (Wilcox, Richards, and OKeefe, 2004).
From the studies that have been conducted in the field of clinical science, it has been evident that individuals who have been victims of sexual abuse as children and teenagers stand a higher chance of suffering from psychological and mental complications in their adult life (Cromer and Sachs-Ericsson, 2006). Health complications coupled with high levels of stress are viewed to be the repercussions of sexual abuse. From the study that was conducted by Cromer and Sachs-Ericsson (2006) diseases such as rheumatism, ulcers, asthma, lupus, nervous disorders, and so on are a likely indication of the presence of sexual abuse on individuals (p. 968). The results of their study showed individuals who were victims of sexual abuse in their earlier years were more prevalent to these diseases as compared to those who were not sexually abused. From these results, therefore, we can conclude that there is a direct relationship between ill health and sexual abuse.
Victims of sexual abuse also have high-stress levels as compared to individuals who have not been sexually abused. This may arise due to the difficulty in dealing with the situation, the emotional distress, guilt, helplessness, and selflessness that these individuals may be facing. On the other hand, increased stress levels in an individual increase the chances of ill health. Therefore, increased stress levels and poor health in individuals are some of the long-term effects of child sexual abuse.
- Cromer, K. and Sachs-Ericsson, N. (2006). The Association Between Childhood Abuse, PTSD, and the Occurrence of Adult Health Problems: Moderation via Current Life Stress. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 19, p. 967-971
- Magolin, G. and Vickerman, K. (2007). Posttraumatic Stress in Children and Adolescents Exposed to Family Violence: I. Overview and Issues. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 38 (6), p. 613-619
- Wilcox, D., Richards, F., and OKeefe, Z. (2004). Resilience and Risk Factors Associated with Experiencing Childhood Sexual Abuse. Child Abuse Review, 13, p. 338-352.