Adult Survivor of Sexual Abuse

An adult survivor of child sexual abuse is an individual who was sexually abused as a child. Child sexual abuse is when a child is used for the sexual gratification of an older adolescent or adult. Ritual sexual abuse of children is more common than previously thought. Ritual abuse is the repetitive and systematic severe sexual, physical, psychological, and spiritual abuse of children.

In child sexual abuse the adult violates the trust of the child and abuses the power that an adult has over a child. More times than not a victim of child sexual abuse never discussed the abuse with anyone while it was occurring and now has to learn how to deal with the long term effects of the abuse as an adult.

Sexual abuse of children occurs across all communities regardless of race, religion, cultural heritage, social, or economic status. While most victims are female, boys and male adolescents are also sexually abused. Many survivors do not remember the abuse until years after it has occurred when something in adulthood triggers the memory. The term “survivor” is used instead of “victim” in recognition of the strengths of the individual who has survived childhood sexual abuse.

Some common long-term effects are:

  • Extremely low self-esteem, self-hatred and extreme depression
  • Frequent sleep disturbances and nightmares since children are often sexually abused in their own rooms and beds
  • Severe lack of trust since they were betrayed by the people who cared for them and insisted they loved them while abusing them
  • Re victimization where the survivor finds themselves in abusive, dangerous situations or relationships as adults
  • Flashbacks where the survivor re-experiences the sexual abuse
  • Dissociation; which is the ability to escape stressful or harmful situations by creating another place for the mind to go

Survivors often believe that they are responsible for the abuse and carry feelings of extreme guilt and self blame. Many survivors attempt to cope with their feelings by abusing drugs, alcohol, food/eating, and/or by engaging in self-injury. If you find yourself using any of these strategies it does not mean that you are beyond help. You did or are doing whatever was necessary for you to survive. With help you can choose to change these behaviors since these strategies may be endangering your health. Health and Wellness Group can provide the help necessary to make these changes.