Childhood Abuse, Trauma & Recovery

Childhood Abuse, Trauma & Recovery

When a child is used in any way for the sexual arousal of an adult or another child, whether through touching behaviors or non-touching behaviors, like exhibitionism or showing pornography, that child has been sexually abused. Sometimes the abuse is disguised as a game and very often the abuser is a close family member or other trusted person. In any case, the trauma of sexual abuse has profound impacts on a child’s development – psychologically, socially, and physically.

Children who’ve been sexually abused will often behave differently than their peers. They may appear to space out or be hyperactive, they may have angry outbursts, frequent nightmares, learning problems, or knowledge of sex inappropriate to their age. Some victims will become withdrawn, others act aggressively or bully other children. Sometimes the behaviors become so troublesome that social service agencies or the police are called in.

Studies show the prevalence of childhood sexual abuse to be between thirty to forty percent for girls and twenty to thirty percent for boys. These children are traumatized during periods of their development essential to building healthy relationships, coping skills, and feelings of safety and self-worth. Sexual abuse can do considerable damage in these areas – damage that can last a lifetime if untreated

The ongoing effects of sexual abuse can include post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, substance abuse, interpersonal issues, pervasive feelings of insecurity, shame, and distrust…but there is hope. Whether the abuse is discovered by a caregiver right away, or an adult survivor decides it’s time to get help, specific therapies and treatment approaches can enable a victim of childhood sexual trauma to lead a fully satisfying, and healthy life. A child who has been sexually abused needs reassurance that she or he is believed, is not to blame and will be kept safe from further harm. For the adult survivor, treatment may include group and individual therapy, stress management techniques, behavioral education, meditation, and the acquisition of new coping skills. Regardless of when the abuse is recognized know that it is never too late to get help.

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