Childhood Sexual Abuse and Its Impact on Future Life


Sibling- incest victims, CSA victims, and rape survivors have been unable to enjoy normal sexual functionality or keep their important relationships in their adulthood. Relationships and sexual activities in normal life play a very important role in the well-being of a person. For human beings to be able to have a good life both in childhood and adulthood, they need to be emotionally, socially, mentally, and physically healthy.

Cases of childhood sexual abuse have continued to be experienced in different societies. It is also true that the harm caused by partial or successful sexual abuse among children has adverse effects on the subsequent adulthood relational and psychosexual lives of the victim. Many individuals have been unable to enjoy normal sexual functionality or keep their important relations like marriages because they still suffer the effects of sexual abuse which occurred during their childhood.

The efforts being put in place by myriads of research work to bring into limelight into this issue are therefore very important and need to be standardized to produce credible and reliable data. This will create a strong foundation for the prevention and treatment of such child maltreatment. It will also help in rehabilitating victims of the abuse to enable them to have normal lives, especially in their adulthood.

Childhood sexual abuse (CSA), Interpersonal relationships, and Adulthood sexual functioning

Studies have revealed that adults exhibit a variety of behaviors in their interpersonal relations and basic sexual functioning. To explain why there are disparities in these aspects of life, several studies have been carried out. One of the major exclusions in the research papers reviewed here is quite informative. In addition to describing the research findings, it was necessary to summarize how psychosexual functioning among adults is affected by the experiences of sexual abuse done during the tender ages of an adult. Disclosure of childhood sexual abuse indeed influences the three major dimensions of an adult’s relationships and sexual functioning.

These include the emotional dimension which has to do with guilt and fear of sex, the behavioral aspect which entails problems with touch and attempts of sexual arousal, and the evaluative ability to realize sexual satisfaction (Easton et al., 2011). Limitations in the above-mentioned features in a person’s life are manifested in their relationships with others. Given the case of a person who was sexually abused by a close relative and raped later in life, it is possible to justify why they cannot have good interpersonal relations. A discussion is done here to account for their inability to experience normal sexual functioning.

This study paper gives a comprehensive review of the literature. The paper reviews the important findings of research in six given study works. It incorporates a broad discussion of the topics; childhood sexual abuse, interpersonal relationships, and adulthood sexual functioning

Friesien et al (2010) points out that the exposure of children to sexual activity has both short term and long term adverse effects. The effects are more evident during a person’s development toward adulthood. They include an elevation in mental health problems, poor social development, and high susceptibility to drug abuse or dependence. It is commendable to carry on studies that aim at demonstrating how sexual abuse affects the lives of people.

The claims of the interpersonal functioning in childhood sexual abuse victims have not been well studied (Friesien et al., 2010). This is a very central domain in adult functioning which has been left unexhausted. It is important to note that the ability of these victims to form quality intimate relationships is compromised. Besides, the experiences of abuse should be retraced in their lives. This is the only way to create a base for their healing process to start (Kallstrom-Fuqua, Weston & Marshall, 2004).

The method used by Pistorello and Follette (1998) in their work simply evaluates and reports the statistics collected on the issue at hand. The whole matter of having a disturbed relational and sexual life is a reality. The research should be made more meaningful by the incorporation of strategies for helping the victims promptly.

The research on childhood sexual abuse and adulthood relational functioning has mainly focused on females. Women are more vulnerable to abuse. They are more affected and most cases report women’s sex adjustment problems, high levels of conflict coupled with low partner attachment. It is true that in a given random community study; childhood sexual abuse is the major explanation of poor partner perceptions, sexual incompatibility, and high divorce rates.

The survivors of child sexual abuse are more likely married to reckless husbands. This is because they are careless and their sensitivity was eroded by the experience of abuse. They mostly have family and marriage problems. The method of evaluating the functioning of both the married and the divorced members of society was most applicable. The interviews were done on specific persons, basically, those who were willing to cooperate. Most victimized people did not collaborate because they were not offered any cure for their current status. This did not help to give a realistic figure of the state of adults who were sexually abused during their childhood.

The reliability of research findings depends on the technique used to minimize its limitations (Merrill et al., 2003). The research done on this topic has several methodological constraints. The long term conclusions should not fully rely on on without the consideration of errors. The overdependence on high-risk populations limits the generalized interpretation of the problem. There are potential errors realized from overestimates.

On top of this, the information from retrospective reports by victims needs a technical approach. To ensure that data is not withdrawn, it was necessary to account for bias realized through a respondent’s psychological link with their specific abuse experience. Merrill et al. (2003) note that the memories of childhood are systematically joined with an adult’s current way of expressing themselves. The use of short-term longitudinal research designs was appropriate although there is a possibility of under investigation because of using relatively few methods of assessment.

The current happenings in the life of the adult who was traumatized by abuse are inseparable from their past. The explanation of how the abuse perpetrated the disruption of one’s future has to be done carefully. This is because many factors affect the family. In giving the result, it is essential to control all family factors. The problematic relations observed reflect the family social contexts in which one was brought up (Merrill et al., 2003). Pistorello and Follette (1998) argue that other family factors do not exaggerate the presence of child sexual abuse. They explain that these family factors help in exposing what has been happening in secret.

The concerns of other external parties are indeed aroused by the extreme occurrences in a family that has cases of sexual abuse. It is also important to note that the intimate relationships of adults are limited by many other factors. For instance, in communities with poor economic status, the perceptions of abuse are weak. The effects on a victim are therefore buffered by the hardships of daily living.

On a different note, the accumulation of many painful childhood experiences does not necessarily increase the overall risk of long term difficulties in individual sexual health and interpersonal functioning (Watson & Halford, 2010). The findings put forward by Kallstrom-Fuqua, Weston, and Marshall (2004) ought to be made more commanding. It is not enough to directly report the immediate response of a research respondent. A good researcher deduces his conclusions by analyzing the ground findings. Sexual abuse co-occurs with relative physical assortment. This calls for a more strict investigation of every case of child maltreatment.

Abuse causes life long psychological injuries. The permanent marks which are put in the system of an innocent mind keep on re-occurring. This explains why many female survivors of sexual abuse exhibit emotional fixes especially in response to sexual advances. Husbands and wives must be keen to understand the experiences of their spouses. This helps in cultivating a health-seeking character (Watson & Halford, 2010). Studies have revealed that it is easier for an adult victim to start seeking therapeutic actions with the motivation of their spouses (Friesien et al., 2010).

To be able to explain the behavioral, emotional, and evaluative psychosexual well-being of adults, it is important to examine the due course of their lives. Three teenage factors account for adult traits. The first factor which affects relationships is adolescent risky sexual behavior. This is shown through cases of multiple sexual partners and careless sexual activities. There is a close relationship between sexual risk-taking and child sexual abuse (Kallstrom-Fuqua, Weston & Marshall, 2004). It is proven that females who have been exposed to sexual abuse have an early onset of consensual sex (Kallstrom-Fuqua, Weston & Marshall, 2004).

This has led to cases of married people who have many sex partners and engage in unprotected intercourse. It is also true that early sexual activity leads to cohabiting. The latter is a major cause of the high risk of poor relations and family instability. Married people with high risk-taking characters are living out the attitudes of their youth. The period of successful transition into adulthood is disrupted by childhood sexual abuse.

It has been found out that many persons who encountered childhood sexual abuse often experience more turmoil when they are put in treatment (Watson & Halford, 2010). This is however not supposed to demean the efforts of rehabilitating them. Their difficult emotional interactions should be analyzed within the context of disorientation caused by the abuse experience. Survivors of this experience have low expressiveness and difficulties of communication within and without a relationship.

The major clinical efforts of helping the victims are supposed to be those of improving their private feelings when in intimate relationships. Irregular patterns of relating are harmful in both short and long term periods. The culprits tend to lose their full focus on others. They have a total dysfunction of the social aspect of their lives. Hence, it is recommended that people with such a condition should be helped to get back their confidence rather than to love their partners (Easton et al., 2011). This is because they cannot develop good emotional attachments with those who they largely value in life.

The effects of sexual abuse affect the whole well-being of an adult. In cases where relationships have been successful for a long, a permanent loss of trust occurs. The victims have a large cost to pay to continue relating since they have low capacities of trust. Fear and distrust continue dominating their decisions repeatedly. In real-life situations, victims have doubts about letting others grow close to them. Merrill et al. (2003) refer to this as a perpetual inability to receive or give affection.

In every relationship, it is easy to note that these individuals are keen to avoid a situation whereby they will become exposed to exploitation. Indeed, the emotional relationships of those people who experienced sexual abuse earlier in their lives are weak. This is because they worry about the emotional intimacy it costs. There is an observation of short term relations among these persons. Due to a lack of fulfillment, they keep on experimenting (Friesen, Woodward, Horwood & Fergusson, 2010).

In the case of individuals recovering from rape and broken marriages, studies have revealed that there is a fear of entitlement. The person develops a feeling of wanting to say ‘no’ to any need of the other party. They disregard the demands of others and tend to minimize their needs because they do not want to bother any person. In general, such people do not want to experience sexual dependency. They hate cases whereby they have to fulfill the sexual desires of another person.

Female adults with this problem have a strong desire for safety. This explains why they have to be assured of peace and remain hopeful when the conditions in a relationship show signs of good moments ahead. I agree with the findings of Easton et al. (2011) when they posit that sexually abused adults tend to have emotional shut downs, especially when confronted with disturbing or threatening issues.

Females with colonial demands in relationships have an indwelling desire to dominate. This is a result of a feeling that they can survive and be secure by being cautious. They always desire to control the dynamics of their affairs. This becomes a source of conflict in families where the husband does not understand the problem of the wife. The whole issue can be explained by the fact that abuse survivors grow into defiant fellows who do not give others any room to manipulate them (Pistorello & Follette, 1998).

They develop a strong belief that men are the ones responsible for sexual abuse. Hatred of men is cultivated in their system. On the other hand, men who were sexually abused become extremely arrogant or have a high degree of cowardice. Their case is unique in the sense that it is a function of their self-esteem and not a mere psychological injury. Merrill et al. (2003) found out that mature men who have been molested sexually have higher chances of moving on compared to women.

The relationship between subsequent sexual and relational difficulties with childhood sexual abuse needs more interventional attention. It is not fair enough to give greater attention to sexual dysfunction and a lesser concern to relationship difficulties. Researchers and human rights authorities need to embark on an action of giving these issues an equal level of interest (Kallstrom-Fuqua, Weston & Marshall, 2004).

The distresses obtained from sexual incapacitation do not give someone the ability to relate well given the fact that sex is a central way of expressing oneself in any relationship. Most persons with relational problems need to be taught the importance of revealing their sexual difficulties. Friesien et al. (2010) note that many patients who undergo counseling treatment remain traumatized because they conceal their sexual problems. Scholars must include the general informative mood in all their articles on sexual problems. This will assist in teaching the affected persons in a way that does not stigmatize them.

The study articles reviewed above do not comprehensively explore issues of sibling incest. The investigations were supposed to illustrate the effects of violent acts in this family. This was to be built on the psychological and relational well-being of survivors. Sibling incest has a great impact on the well being of adult survivors. The characteristics of victims do not vary widely although there are different types of incest. All victims of sister-sister, brother- brother, or sister-brother incest experience harm regardless of their age (Pistorello & Follette, 1998).

The act is normally very abusive and leads to a total betrayal of trust. In most cases, the victims are threatened by the perpetrators to keep whatever happened in secret. It is important to carry out research having in mind the fact that victims of sibling incest find it hard to reveal their abuse. They always feel that the disclosure comes with a lot of shame.

Several factors were not fully screened on the experiences of incest. To create a base for prevention research, it was important to engage the victims on a formal note. Such a perspective is one which makes a respondent comfortable when revealing findings. This is achieved by making the victims understand that what happened was wrong and that it is to be dealt with accordingly. The research methodologies of the general gathering of information increased the chances of reducing accuracy by making victims uncomfortable with the intended sharing of their stories.

In summarizing the discussion on how childhood sexual abuse affects the subsequent sexual and relational live of adults as depicted in the reviewed articles, it is essential to underscore that the experience is very harmful and makes victims suffer from a series of problems. These range from suicidal attempts, a change from self-esteem, self disrespect as well as great damages to one’s psychological balance. In conclusion, it should be noted that injuries of sexual abuse are life long.

Their impact varies from an individual to another and according to the community set up. The most common consequential effects post-trauma stress, isolation, anger, hyper-vigilance, drug abuse, anorexia, bulimia, extreme guilt, shame, physical illness, and agoraphobia. These effects also include the fear of staying alone, being scared of darkness, relentless nightmares, insomnia, and general psychiatric maladjustment.

Most of the people who experienced CSA have relational and sexual difficulties in their adulthood. It has therefore been demonstrated that the issue has practical consequences that need prevention and treatment. Marriages and families can be stabilized again or even recreated in cases where persons have parted ways by arguing that they are incompatible.


Easton, S., Coohey, C., O’leary, P., Zhang, Y., & Hua, L. (2011). The Effect of Childhood Sexual Abuse on Psychosexual Functioning During Adulthood. Journal of Family Violence, 26(1), 41-50.

Friesen, M., Woodward, L., Horwood, L. & Fergusson, D. (2010). Childhood exposure to sexual abuse and partnership outcomes at age 30. Psychological Medicine, 40(4), 679-88.

Kallstrom-Fuqua, A., Weston, R. & Marshall, L. (2004). Childhood and adolescent sexual abuse of community women: Mediated effects on psychological distress and social relationships. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 72(6), 980-992.

Merrill, L., Guimond, j., Thomsen, C., & Milner, J. (2003). Child sexual abuse and number of sexual partners in young women: The role of abuse severity, coping style, and sexual functioning. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 71(6), 987-996.

Pistorello, J. & Follette, V. (1998). Childhood sexual abuse and couples’ relationships: Female survivors’ reports in therapy groups. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 24(4), 473-85.

Watson, B., & Halford, K. (2010).Classes of Childhood Sexual Abuse and Women’s Adult Couple Relationships. Violence and Victims, 40(4), 518-537.

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PsychologyWriting. "Childhood Sexual Abuse and Its Impact on Future Life." September 6, 2022.