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Psychological Effects On Sexually Abused Children

1549 words - 6 pages

Survivors of child sexual abuse will experience psychological effects, but rather than equally, they will experience to varying degrees and in different combinations." Although sexual abuse will undoubtedly affect different children of different age groups and circumstances in different ways there are a number of common effects". (Mayes, G.M., Currie, E.F., Macleod, L., Gillies, J.B., Warden, D.A., 1992, p.102). Physical evidence in child sexual abuse is rare, however the psychological injuries that result are considerable and potentially more damaging.Each individual's experiences and consequences to this form of abuse are unique, but it seems there are some common short and long term reactions with it's survivors. These children may experience such psychological problems as, "anxieties, fears, depression, angry and destructive behaviour, phobic reactions and deficits in intellectual, physical and social development." (Green, 1993, p.892). Adults may experience the same short term symptoms and in addition, effects such as, suicidal tendencies, substance abuse, flashbacks, sex offending, negative self-concept, revictimisation, difficulty in interpersonal relationships, feelings of detachment from others, borderline personality disorder (BPD) and dissociative identity disorder (DID), more commonly known as multiple personality disorder (MPD). Abused children may carry symptoms through to adulthood such as, anxiety, lack of trust, dissociation, depression, sexual dysfunction, guilt or shame, fear, lack of self esteem, anger, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), poor eating habits and sleep disturbances. Sleep disorders can cover many common symptoms such as nightmares, sleepwalking and insomnia. Psychological problems such as these could be carried throughout the victim's lives, without some form of intervention.This trauma of child sexual abuse can cause life-debilitating repercussions. The loss of trust in the people around them is one of the more basic, yet crucial effects suffered by victims of child sexual abuse. This is demonstrated by Sheldrick (1991), "This lack of a basic trust in others seems to occur particularly if there has been a poor attachment to the mother." (Sheldrick, 1991, p.58). Understandably, a sense of fair play, or justice is often denied to children who have been abused sexually. In the past, cries for help from those trusted by the victim were often likely to be either dismissed or ignored. "There has traditionally been great suspicion of children who allege that they have been sexually abused and a tendency to describe such claims as fantasy. Freud himself eventually took this view in respect of his patients and his writing may well have influenced us to deny the reality of this form of ill treatment. Experience states that children rarely fabricate such statements." (Jones, D.N., Pickett, J., Oates, M.R., Barbour, P. 1987, p.82). Learning to trust others can be difficult to attain or maintain in a traumatic environment...

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