Approximately 39 million survivors of childhood sexual abuse exist in America today (Bull,2001). This figure continues to grow daily as perpetrators of this crime continue in this destructive path. To get a better understanding of what sexual trauma can do to a child the website all about counseling asked us to imagine “ a 6 year old being abused by a family member, say Uncle Joe. Uncle Joe has been very nice to the child up until the other day. He then steps across sexual boundaries, or even becomes physically hurtful to the child. The child may have a hard time holding onto that experience and still function as a young child, playing and enjoying life (www.allaboutcounseling.com).
According to the website (www.allaboutcounseling.com) “Children often protect themselves by blocking/repressing or dissociating these kinds of memories. Because of this experience, a child may develop depression or other kinds of symptoms like isolating themselves, or acting out with anger. These symptoms can continue into adulthood. Unless the memory is confronted, the person may continue to act out, not knowing the cause for their
It has been stated “that having a traumatic dissociation or childhood sexual amnesia is very common and real. The human mind responds in various ways to trauma. People who have studied trauma and traumatic events have known for a long time that there are several kinds of amnesia that affects us. When something is overwhelming emotionally, some people block it out, separating the event from the rest of their memories”(www.allaboutcounseling.com). For example, people that were in a car accident forget parts of what happened. The psychological conclusion says that the stress of the moment was so traumatic that the person cannot relieve the emotional content (www.allaboutcounseling.com).
Sexually abused children generally reveal significant problems in diverse areas of functioning including those that affect, behavior, cognition and interpersonal relationships. Finkelhor and Browne (1986) developed a conceptual framework to organize the observed effects of CSA. They proposed an analysis of sexual abuse in terms of “four trauma-causing factors” labeled as the traumagenic dynamics. This umbrella term covers the concepts of traumatic sexualisation, stigmatization, betrayal and powerlessness.
It has been found that sexually abused children suffer from anxiety, post-traumatic stress, guilt, depression and low self-esteem. To determine which age group would most likely suffer from a certain type of behavior researchers used sample from several different sources that primarily drew from sexual evaluation, treatment programs as well as subgroup of victims such as daycares. Common behavioral symptoms found include irritability, frequent soiling, nightmares, suicide attempts and confusion about sexual boundaries. Research suggests that children in South Africa are at high risk for CSA.
A recent meta- analysis on the prevalence of CSA revealed...