According to UNICEF, millions of girls and boys throughout the world are sexually abused and exploited every year. Sexual abuse affects people from all walks of life and in all parts of the world. Sexual abuse, often known as molestation, is when one person engages in harmful sexual activity toward another. It is an umbrella term and includes various heinous types including sexual assault (purposefully sexually contacting someone without their consent), child sexual abuse (in which an adult or older adolescent sexually stimulates a minor), sexual assault of men and boys, (males are sexually abused), incest (unwanted sexual intercourse by a family member) and drug-facilitated sexual assault (sexual abuse committed on a person after he or she has become unconscious as a result of drug use).
Children who have been sexually abused are likely to be polyvictimized; thus, the repercussions of the abuse must be understood within the context of a complex history of victimization (Finkelhor, Ormrod, Turner, & Hamby, 2005). Survivors of sexual assault may feel as though their bodies are not truly their own. Survivors frequently express emotions of shame, dread, and remorse. Many people blame themselves for the attack. There are physical, psychological, behavioral, and social difficulties that can affect children who have been abused and can cause serious impairment in various areas of the victim’s life. The link between childhood sexual abuse and adult mental health suggests that abused victims have higher degrees of psychopathology, substance addiction and suicidal tendencies are much more prevalent. These issues can lead to school failure, drug and alcohol misuse, and disputes with the laws (Fry et al., 2012; Fry and Blight, 2016). Child sexual abuse causes depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, a tendency to re-victimization in adulthood, physical damage to the child, and an elevated chance of future interpersonal violence perpetration in males, among other issues. Incest is more prevalent than other types of sexual assault on a kid and can cause more significant and long-term psychological trauma, particularly in cases of parental incest. Sexual abuse when counted in terms of gender also points out that females, as well as males, are sexually abused but because of social beliefs and preconceptions about males and masculinity, older men and boys who have been sexually attacked or abused tend not to disclose their experiences of sexual abuse to a lesser extent than females.
The following are psychological illnesses that are extremely prone to emerge in the life of a child who has been sexually abused, jeopardizing their future and stifling their growth,
- Depression: Coping with the loss of bodily autonomy would be extremely difficult for a growing child or teenager; it might leave them feeling powerless, hopeless, and profoundly depressed. It might also have a negative impact on their self-esteem. Depressive feelings might be moderate and transient, or they can be severe and chronic.
- Anxiety: It’s possible that the children and teenagers are worried that the event may happen again. They may experience panic attacks, and some may develop agoraphobia (dread of leaving one’s home). The child may develop a long-term fear of the type of person who has mistreated them. Any indication of danger might elicit highly uncomfortable and negative feelings.
- Posttraumatic stress (PTSD): A child who has survived a sexual assault may recall the event vividly. Memories may be so distracting in some situations that a person loses track of his or her surroundings. Complicated posttraumatic stress disorder is a condition that a person may develop (C-PTSD). In addition to traditional PTSD symptoms, C-PTSD appears as a persistent fear of abandonment. Some people with C-PTSD have personality changes as well.
- Attachment Issues: It may be difficult for survivors to develop healthy ties with others. This is especially true in the case of mistreated children. Adults who were mistreated as children are more likely to have unstable attachment patterns. They may have difficulty with intimacy or be overly eager to develop intimate ties.
- Substance Abuse: Children who have been abused are more likely to use drugs and alcohol. The use of drugs and alcohol can assist to dull the agony of abuse. However, substance misuse frequently leads to the emergence of new issues.
Sexual abuse leaves a psychological scar on a kid, but it can also result in physical injuries such as cuts and bruises, as well as more serious injuries. In the future, he or she could struggle with sexual dysfunction or infertility. The risks of contracting sexually transmitted illnesses are quite high. Pregnancy can occur as a result of a sexual assault and giving birth to a kid who has become pregnant is potentially dangerous. Sexual assault can take many different shapes and be characterized in a variety of ways, but one thing stays constant: the victim is never to blame.
If you’re someone who is dealing with such issues, it is important that you reach out,
YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
ChildLine- is a 24-hour, FREE, nation-wide phone outreach emergency helpline for children in need of care and protection: 1098.
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