Sexual Abuse Effects
Sexual abuse effects on children and youth can be evident in emotional, physical and behavioural ways. These effects can be just as devastating whether there was only one occurrence or there were repeated occurrences. Sexual abuse cannot be compared, because each abuse experience is unique.
Points to consider:
» Children/youth are unable to protect themselves and stop the abuse.
The above factors lead to:
Emotional and Physical Sexual Abuse Effects:
Molested children suffer many losses, including:
self-esteem and self-worth
childhood, including the opportunity to play and learn
the opportunity for normal growth and development
control over his/her body
normal loving and nurturing
safety and security
Behavioural Sexual Abuse Effects:
clinging and smothering
insecurity, which put the child at risk for further abuse and exploitation
psychosomatic complaints such as stomachaches and headaches
precocious sexual activity--a young child knows more than they should about sexual activity; child may exhibit seductive behaviour
FACT: 17% of abused children exhibit age inappropriate sexual behaviour (Trocme & Wolfe, 2001, p.283).
FACT: Of the sexual abuse effects exhibited, sexualized behaviour is the most consistent indicator of sexual abuse (Cavanagh Johnson et. al., 1995, pp.50-514).
with young children, a preoccupation with sexual organs of self, parents and others--often this shows itself in language and art
aggression and bullying behaviours
FACT: 14% of abused children exhibit behaviour problems (Trocme & Wolfe, 2001, p.285).
sudden changes in eating and/or sleeping habits
depression and anxiety
FACT: 29% of abuse children exhibit depression or anxiety (Trocme & Wolfe, 2001, p.286).
refusal to change clothes in front of others
obsessively good behaviour
obsessed with cleanliness
FACT: 13% of abused children exhibit negative peer involvement (Trocme & Wolfe, 2001, p.287).
unwillingness to participate in social activities
FACT: 85% of runaways in Toronto have been sexually abused(Conference on Child Victimization & Child Offending, 20008).
truancy / long absence from school
FACT: 10% of abused children have irregular school attendance (Trocme & Wolfe, 2001, p.289).
long absence from participation in extracurricular activities
dissociation--a child's existence is dependent on his/her ability to separate from the pain, which, in the most repulsive cases, may result in multiple personalities
risky behaviours such as firestarting, stealing and other delinquencies
alcohol and drug abuse
FACT: According to the Conference on Child Victimization & Child Offending (200010), sexual abuse effects on children with a history of molestation reflect that they are seven times more likely to become drug/alcohol dependent
FACT: In a sexual abuse effects study of 938 adolescents admitted to residential, therapeutic communities for the treatment of substance abuse and related disorders, 64% of the girls and 24% of the boys reported histories of sexual abuse (Hawke, Jainchill, & DeLeon, 2000, pp.35-4711).
self-harm, including cutting and burning
FACT: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is one of the sexual abuse effects that plague sexually abused children and adult survivors of child abuse. Symptoms experienced are similar to those experienced by Vietnam veterans and may include sleep disturbances, anxiety and depression, which negatively impact on their daily psychosocial functioning and for which many seek professional help (Wiehe, 1998, p.5012).
preoccupation with sex
compulsive and aggressive sexual behaviours
self-destructive sexual behaviour and prostitution
FACT: 98% of female street youth in British Columbia reported being victims of physical or sexual abuse as compared to 32% of female youths in schools. 59% of male street youth reported being victims of physical or sexual abuse as compared to 15% of male youth in schools (Beauvais et al., 2001, p.6213).
in adulthood, sexual dysfunction--avoidance of or phobic reactions to sexual intimacy
becomes the abuser
FACT: Studies done by Haywood, Kravitz, Wasyliw, Goldberg and Cavanaugh in 1996 reflect some disturbing sexual abuse effects. The study found that the odds of becoming a child molester were 5.43 times greater for adult male victims of childhood sexual abuse than for adult male non-victims (Lee, Jackson, Pattison, & Ward, 2002, p.8814).
attempted and completed suicide
FACT: Children with a history of sexual molestation are ten times more likely to attempt suicide (Conference on Child Victimization & Child Offending, 200015).
Sexual abuse effects on the child or youth are connected to the child/youth's life before, during and after the sexual contact. We must understand that the effects apply every bit as much to the disclosure and intervention as it does to the abuse itself. Sexual abuse effects continue long after the abuse stops.
|Sexual Abuse||Sexual Abuse Victims|
|Sexual Abuse Definition||Male Victims|
|Sexual Abuse Signs||Female Victims|
|Sexual Abuse Effects||Victims with Disability|
|Sexual Abuse Statistics||Sexual Abuse Disclosures|
|Emotional Abuse Effects||Physical Abuse Effects|
|Child Neglect Effects||Sex Abuse Effects|
|Abuse Headlines||History of Abuse|
|Sexual Abuse Signs||Child Abuse Stats|
|Sexual Abuse Effects||Emotional Abuse|
|Sexual Abuse Stats||Emotional Abuse Types|
|Sexual Abuse Victims||Emotional Abuse Signs|
|Male Victims||Emotional Abuse Effects|
|Victims w/ Disability||Emotional Abuse Stats|
|Sexual Abuse Disclosures||Physical Abuse|
|Sex Offenders||Physical Abuse Signs|
|Male Sex Offenders||Abuse & Discipline|
|Female Sex Offenders||Physical Abuse Effects|
|Child Sex Offenders||Physical Abuse Stats|
|Adolescent Sex Offenders||Child Neglect|
|Incestuous Sex Offenders||Child Neglect Signs|
|Internet Sex Offenders||Child Neglect Effects|
|Child Abuse Law||Child Neglect Stats|
|Age of Majority||Poverty & Neglect|
|Duty to Report||Sexual Abuse|
|Abuse Intervention||Sexual Abuse Defined|
Sexual Abuse Effects
NOTE: Information pages on this site were based on material from the Canadian Red Cross RespectED Training Program. Written permission was obtained to use their copyrighted material on this site.
2 Fleming, J., Mullen, P., & Bammer, G. (1997). A study of potential risk factors for sexual abuse in childhood. Child Abuse & Neglect, 21(1), 49-58.
3 Trocme, N., & Wolfe, D. (2001). Child maltreatment in Canada: Canadian incidence study of reported child abuse and neglect: Selected results. Ottawa: National Clearinghouse on Family Violence, Health Canada.
4 Cavanagh Johnson, T. & Friend, C. (1995). Assessing young children's sexual behaviours in the context of child sexual abuse evaluations, In T. Ney (Eds.), True and False Allegations of Child Sexual Abuse: Assessment and Case Management (pp.49-72). New York: Brunner/Mazel.
5, 6, 7 Trocme, N., & Wolfe, D. (2001). Child maltreatment in Canada: Canadian incidence study of reported child abuse and neglect: Selected results. Ottawa: National Clearinghouse on Family Violence, Health Canada.
8 Conference on Child Victimization & Child Offending. (2000). Working together for children: Protection and prevention data needs for timely intervention. Paper presented in Toronto, Ontario.
9 Trocme, N., & Wolfe, D. (2001). Child maltreatment in Canada: Canadian incidence study of reported child abuse and neglect: Selected results. Ottawa: National Clearinghouse on Family Violence, Health Canada.
10 Conference on Child Victimization & Child Offending. (2000). Working together for children: Protection and prevention data needs for timely intervention. Paper presented in Toronto, Ontario.
11 Hawke, J., Jainchill, N., & DeLeon, G. (2000). School professionals' attributions of blame for child sexual abuse. Journal of Child and Adolescent Substance Abuse, 9(3), 35-47.
12 Wiehe, V. (1998). Understanding family violence: Treating and preventing partner, child, sibling and elder abuse. Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications, Inc.
13 Beauvais, C., McKay, L., & Seddon, A. (2001). A literature review on youth and citizenship. Canadian Policy Research Network Discussion Paper No. CPRN/02., 50.
14 Lee, J., Jackson, H., Pattison, P., & Ward, T. (2002, January 26). Developmental risk factors for sexual offending. Child Abuse and Neglect, 26(1), 73-92.
15 Conference on Child Victimization & Child Offending. (2000). Working together for children: Protection and prevention data needs for timely intervention. Paper presented in Toronto, Ontario.