The impact of sexual abuse can be life changing and often influences all other areas of a victim’s life. Many victims of sexual abuse struggle with day to day activities due to a breach in trust and the fear of reliving their traumatic experience (s). According to Independent Inquiry Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), victims of such experiences are two to four times more likely to become victims of sexual, physical or emotional abuse again in their lifetime.
Trust is often required when forming and developing relationships, in cases of individuals who have been abused, building trust can take some time as often the perpetrator(s) of the abuse was a trusted person. Some victims of sexual abuse have difficulties and faced barriers when it comes to intimacy with their partners, as intimate moments can cause triggers – reliving their traumatic experiences.
Faith and Religion
Individuals follow a God (s) or a particular faith due to hope, safety and the sense of belonging it provides. Some victims of sexual abuse renounce their religion/faith and doubt their God (s) existence following on from an abuse to do lack of protection from their God (s). Many Individuals believe in a God (s) for protection and hope, sometimes as traumatic as sexual abuse often causes some victims to loose trust in the God they serve.
Hypertension, chronic fatigue, malnutrition, mobility, and problems with reproductive systems and childbirth are all linked to child sexual abuse (IICSA.org.uk). Sever forms of sexual abuse can physical injuries (internal damage) bruises, cuts and also sexually transmitted infection – some untreatable. Physical health is an essential part of human growth, defect in its development means that victims may not be able to partake in daily task and may face some restrictions concerning movement; this can have an influence on their social, emotional and mental development.
Social / Interpersonal Relationships
Anxiety and fears caused as a result of sexual abuse means that some victims are isolated and unable to interact with others. Some victims fear the possibility of meeting their abuser out in public (if no prosecution has taken place). Isolation can cause an increase in anxiety often having an impact on emotional and mental well-being.
Emotional and Mental Well-being
Sexual abuse can cause a range of emotions, including fear, sadness, anger, guilt, self-blame and confusion. Victims can feel humiliated or self-conscious, and will often do not feel equipped or able to talk about what has happened (IISCA.org.uk). Bottling up emotions for a prolonged period of time can lead to substance misuses, eating disorders, dissociation, mental health illnesses and suicide.
It is evident that childhood sexual abuse has an impact in many areas of a person’s life. It is important to seek for support to help minimise and prevent some of the effects listed above. In the UK, there are many support services available for people who have fallen victims of such experiences.
If you have been affected by sexual abuse or assault or know someone who has, please call 999 in cases of emergencies. To report a past experiences please call 101. If you are male and have been a victim of sexual abuse/ assault please contact SurvivorsUK on 02035983898 or Victim Support on 0808 168 9111 for help.
References and Further Reading