Lasting Effects of Child Sexual AbuseQUESTION: Lasting effects of child sexual abuse - What are they?ANSWER:
Lasting effects of child sexual abuse are numerous, and perhaps vary depending on the type of sexual abuse you experienced -- molestation, pedophilia, intercourse, etc.
As a child, my grandfather sexually abused me. From that experience, there are inherent lasting effects within me. Perhaps you can identify with many of them. The following is a partial list of lasting effects that I have experienced:
- Difficulty with reality - I have trouble living in the present; having "what if" thoughts going through my mind. For example, what would my life be like if the abuse had never happened?
- Difficulty with acceptance - I often wonder if others will accept me once they find out about the abuse.
- Overly self-conscience - I find myself apologizing when I do not need to.
- Anger and sadness - When I remember the things that happened, I often wonder how or why someone would do such a thing.
- Abuse - I sometimes wonder if I have tendencies to become an abuser. This is very disconcerting. Studies indicate that many people who have been through some type of abuse often become abusers themselves. This leads to perhaps the core of why people are abused - the victim is treated like an object. Victims often end up viewing others as objects and unfortunately many become abusers themselves.
- Blaming oneself, having shame, feeling like you can never be clean - Physiologically, as child sexual abuse survivors, we try to regain a sense of childhood innocence that was lost. Forgiveness is difficult, both forgiving the culprit and forgiving myself.
- Expression of thoughts and feelings - I struggle with being sincere and genuine and I often feeling like I am hiding things.
- Trust - I wonder whom I can trust, for how long and I find that I am often very slow to trust others.
Perhaps the most damaging effect of child sexual abuse is how it has harmed and skewed my view and relationship with God. I understand that I am created in God's image and that I am a child of a loving Heavenly Father. However, the questions of "why me," frequently plague my mind. This causes love and trust issues with God.
Lasting effects of child sexual abuse sometimes makes me feel unworthy and of no value, often trying to do things of value and worth. Often I feel like I have a hard time fitting into this world and finding my place. I find I have to fit in to have worth and value.
What lasting effects of child sexual abuse do you experience? They are there, perhaps buried under a mirage of things that attempt to take your mind off things. As a person who has struggled with lasting effects, be encouraged. Take heart because God knows what you and I can bare. Rest assured He did not cause your childhood trauma.
God is there wanting to comfort and secure you. He wants you to find refuge in Him. God has become my refuge. He is freeing me and providing real worth and value. God has provided a vehicle for me to help others, encourage others, and let my story be told.
Those of us who have gone through child sexual abuse do have memories, strong memories, and the pain still resonates. There is no eraser, but there is the comfort of God.
If you’re interested in providing a tangible expression of God’s comfort to children in need
, please consider sponsoring a child through our friends at Compassion International.