The Effects of Childhood Sexual Trauma

Introduction

Child abuse has been a major concern for many clinicians. Any form of abuse is devastating and more so for the growing children. When children are neglected, they are exposed to such dangers as physical abuse and sexual abuse. Children as young as five years have been defiled (Child Sexual Assault 2010, p. 1). Others have endured repeated sexual abuse which has led to problems in the future. Psychological effects that are caused by childhood sexual trauma have an impact on the child’s future life and may lead to undesirable effects in the future if intervention is not given in time. The consequences are experienced as soon as the child is abused and if not treated the child will grow with trauma.

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Caregivers have the full responsibility of giving support and protection to every child. Despite the efforts to protect the children, some of them end up being assaulted. Professional psychologists have been able to design a therapy that can help the victims hence it is essential to encourage victims to seek assistance. This paper will discuss the effects of childhood sexual trauma both short-term and long-term effects. It will also discuss the impacts of sexual trauma on relationships and different gender. It will also outline the guidelines and stages that a victim undergoes before they recover.

Definitions

Sexual abuse

Bogorad (1998, p. 1) describes sexual abuse as physical and emotional exploitation. This means that a child that is exposed to pornography, sexual language, and prostitution is being abused. In worse cases of sexual abuse children may be involved in cultural rituals that expose the child to sexual activities. It is the responsibility of the parent and the guardian to protect the child against sexual offense. Sexual abuse is punishable by the law. The Public Health Agency of Canada (2009, p.1) defines sexual abuse as any form of exposure to sexual behavior to a child. They further argue that sexual abuse is performed by a person superior and close to the child.

Sexual trauma

Yuan et al (2006, p, 1) define sexual trauma as the agony that results from a sexual violation of an individual. This term is neutral and is used widely by professionals to avoid the use of words that may trigger memories of the sexual violation. Therefore, childhood trauma refers to the distress resulting from childhood sexual assault.

Statistics

To understand the problem of child sexual abuse, it is important to obtain statistics. The Child Sexual Assault (2010) conducted research that showed that children who are sexually assaulted are aged between 8 years and 12 years. Research findings also reveal that children with sexual trauma have been sexually abused several times. This means that one-time assaults are fewer than repeated abuse. A sixth of the American population has been sexually abused in their childhood. 80% of the abusers are related and known by the victim. The population that is affected needs healing so that they can have productive lives (p. 1).

Boys

According to Child sexual Assault (2010, p. 1), statistics reveal that in every seven boys, one has been sexually assaulted before they become adults. The statistics which were obtained in the United States of America point out that most boys are sodomized by people they live with or interact with within their daily life. Sedlak & Broadhurst (1996), note that the abusers include fathers, brothers, male coaches, and male teachers. There are very few cases of women who abuse young boys.

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Girls

The majority of girls who are abused are below twelve years. This constitutes a quarter of the entire rape cases that are reported in the United States. In every 4 girls, one has been sexually abused as indicated by Child sexual Assault (2010, p. 1). Girls are twice vulnerable as boys. Their abusers include the fathers, siblings, relatives but only 15% of the abusers are strangers.

Childhood sexual abuse and criminal behavior

In line with Child sexual Assault (2010, p. 1), the abusers are aged over 30 years and maybe related and known to the child. The majority of the abusers have suffered from childhood trauma. The abusers are also likely to be part of other criminal behaviors such as robbery and drug abuse.

Childhood sexual abuse and substance abuse

As said by Sedlak & Broadhurst (1996), up to 30% of the sexual people suffering from childhood sexual trauma engage in drug abuse while 50% become alcoholics. Very few overcome the drug problem without assistance. The number of people with sexual trauma and with drug addictions increases is 114% per annum.

Psychological effects of childhood sexual trauma

In accordance with Yuan et al (2006, p, 1), different individuals react differently to childhood sexual abuse. Some are affected and suffer severely from psychological and physical illnesses while others cope well and are able to recover with minimal aid. This is so because the environment of the victim plays a role in the way they will react to the challenges. The individual traits also matter in determining their reactions to the assault. Moreover, Kendall et al (1993, p. 170), say that the victim’s reactions are also influenced by the presence of support groups. It is important to note that the situation and the nature of the events that proceeded before and during the sexual abuse are considerable.

Fear

Mullen (2009, p. 1), indicates that victims of sexual trauma are threatened by the abuser so that they give in. They may be told that they will lose certain privileges like the home and will be forced to do something that they do not like. After the abuse, they are also afraid of sharing the information about the abuse because the abuser who may be a relative and someone, they know will deny it or maybe the person who should protect the child. Disorbio & Bruns (2010, p. 1), mention that the victims fear telling they were abused because they may have perceived that they are to blame and that it was their fault. Fear may cause the victim to remain in suffering for long. It may delay the treatment of infections and injuries as well as psychological problems.

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Helplessness and powerlessness

Sexual trauma comes with the effect of helplessness and powerlessness because the victim’s self-esteem is affected negatively. Since they are children, their abuser who is the caregiver or a trusted person will be viewed as more powerful. What is more, is that the abuser is usually older and even in wisdom. The abuser may be the one who supports the victim with basic needs and is depended on for their basic needs. The abuser is in authority in the eyes of the victim (Saunders 1999, p. 189).

Guilt / Shame

Crespi & Fieldman (2002, p. 36) points out that the victims take upon themselves to blame for the sexual violation. The challenge is that they think that they are to blame for the situation and get a feeling of shame. They may shun getting assistance for fear of being known. The defilement is nothing to be proud of this they avoid talking about it. If the guilt and shame are not dealt with, the patient’s personality may be affected negatively. They may have low self-esteem and lack individual confidence.

Isolation

Isolation comes about because the victim is overwhelmed by the emotions. They prefer to stay away from the routine and lack the motivation to socialize. Since they realize they are offended they avoid situations that will lead them to encounter their abuser (Wolfe 1999). Becker et al (1995), state that victims of sexual violence run away from situations that will lead to embarrassment.

Betrayal

Duncan (2004) says that victims often feel betrayed by people they trust the most. This is because the abusers may be a relative whom they live with and they have known them as good people. They need protection to be able to live safely which is not granted. Their safety is therefore denied by people they trust.

Anger

Victims of childhood sexual trauma are characterized by anger. Male victims often become aggressive and release their anger on those who are close to them. Female victims after abuse experience stress and depression and then anger shows up later. Anger may cause the victim to hurt others and themselves and should be dealt with if possible, early. Anger is an important part of recovering from the trauma and with the help of a psychologist a victim can be assisted to direct the anger to other channels where they will not hurt themselves or other people.

Sadness

The patient goes through a large number of emotions. These emotions are negative and take away the happiness of the child. The child constantly feels offended and helpless, a situation which they do not desire. Sadness leads to depression and the victim becomes depressed and fails to participate in social activities freely (Faller 2009).

Flashbacks

The experiences that a victim undergo are rarely forgotten as discussed by Crespi & Fieldman (2002, p. 36). However, some female victims are believed to forget the events although they recall the event later in life. This is because there may be brain injuries that may cause amnesia Hopper (2011, p. 1). Physical injuries may also make the victim experience intense pain that may lead to trauma. Those who have flashbacks have a difficult time coping with reality and may result in stress disorders.

Stress

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a condition that victims encounter. Yuan et al (2006, p, 1) note that victims are often in constant fear of being abused and avoid all the possibilities that would lead them to a similar situation. They do avoid anything related to the assault and do not want to be reminded of the event.

Lovett (2004, p. 360) and Ruggiero (2004, p. 73) concur that stress may also arise from the feeling of defenselessness and inability to change the past. This comes about when the victim remembers the sexual assault and keeps thinking about it. Dreams may also lead to stress as the victims may not prevent themselves from dreaming and experiencing the nightmares. Thinking about the violence may also make the victim innovate ways of avoiding situations that may lead to abuse. They may actually be extremely keen on individuals with suggestive behaviors and be keen on possible threats.

Derenne & Roberts (2010, p. 420) says that it is common for victims to develop a habit that will help them overcome the negative feelings. This form of distress leads them to more difficulties in coping with the current environment and may end up feeling stressed. However, some victims are able to overcome internal conflicts and stress without getting distressed. The results of stress are not desirable because the victim is largely unhappy. Stressed people are often unable to perform at work, or enjoy a good relationship with other people or even fail to participate in social events.

Personality disorder

McLean & Gallop (2003, p. 468) says that childhood sexual trauma may lead to personality disorders. Victims may treat other people with a lot of suspicions and become uncomfortable whenever they think they are in danger. They may have to shift from one goal to another and become unpredictable in their value system. Moreover, they may have difficulties coping with changes and have a hard time adapting in a group. Besides, Bennice et al (2003) says that the victims may also have irregular friendship patterns with most of them ending without a reason and being very short. They lack trust for people who are close to them as well as strangers. Victims with a personality disorder may have a problem expressing themselves or sharing with others their problems.

Victims with personality disorders seek attention and have a greater need to be admired. Some have threatened to commit suicide and attempted to do so. They may also feel insufficient and tend to be subservient to others. Yuan et al (2006, p, 3) reveal that victims with personality disorders have difficulties in treating them. This is because the personality disorder makes them cease the process of treatment before the patient has recovered from the childhood trauma. For that reason, they require a lot of time to treat. The treatment is more intense and may involve hours of counseling in addition to individual therapy and a support group.

The long-term impact of childhood sexual trauma

Damaged good syndrome

The child has a healthy life and is happy until they are abused. They lose the happiness they experienced before they were defiled. Girls lose virginity which is very obnoxious for them. The child is also exposed to sexual acts at an early age against what most societies advocate for. Besides, the child may have been forced to perform wild sexual acts that are offensive to them.

Depression and Anxiety

Due to the sexual abuse experience, the victim may enter into depression. Bringing to mind the thoughts of being abused leads to negative emotions like stress. The horrified victim may spend a lot of time trying to overcome the negative feelings Stern (2000). Depression affects a person’s ability to perform and to think. They may even lose focus in life and never progress in their career or life because they feel worthless and defiled. As a result, they may stagnate in their social life. Depression may actually lead to other health problems like high blood pressure among other illnesses. Depression is a condition that can be treated. Such victims need assistance because excessive episodes of depression may result in mental health problems as well as chronic mental disorders (Chemtob, 2000).

Dissociation

Dissociation is a situation where the victim of sexual trauma wants to believe that the body is separate from the mind. This is so because they are aware of the fact that their body is defiled and wish it is not part of them. These feelings are not productive as they may cause the victim to avoid dealing with the trauma. The feeling generates from the understanding that they have no power over the abuser.

Sexual difficulties

The abusive sexual experience leaves the victim with an unpleasant memory of sex says Bennie (2003, p. 89). They may find it difficult to enjoy sex and resulting in low interest in sex. The situation is much complicated if it was done by a relative as opposed to if it was done by a stranger. The victim may shun away from any sexual advances and avoid situations that may lead to sex. On the contrary, other victims enter into promiscuous sexual acts. This behavior may have been impacted by the abuser.

Self-destructive behavior

In line with the Office of Trauma Services (2001, p. 2), childhood sexual trauma can lead to self-destructive behavior such as suicide efforts, attempts to stub oneself, piercing and cutting the body, and failing to feed. Assistance must be sort to protect the victim and others.

Relationship problems

Victims are believed to have relationship problems. The trauma is accused of causing them to have a problem in maintaining relationships. They have short-lived relationships. More so they have fewer relationships than people who may have never experienced any form of abuse (Warner & Wilkens, 2004, p. 269).

Parenting problems

According to the Office of Trauma Services (2001, p. 3), parents with childhood sexual trauma may end up neglecting their children. Since they were not treated for the childhood trauma, they may even sexually abuse their own children. In most cases, the male victims may sodomize the boy child and defile the girl child. The female victim may neglect to protect the child. Treatment of sexual trauma can make parents provide good parenting to their own children and successfully protect their own children. Dunca (2010, p. 265), reveals that parents have the responsibility of protecting their children.

Mental health problems

According to the Office of Trauma Services (2001), adults with mental problems are sometimes victims of sexual trauma. The adult may have suffered repeatedly from sexual abuse in addition to other forms of abuse such as physical abuse. Moreover, adults prone to depression have a history of childhood sexual or physical abuse (p. 1).

What is more is that childhood sexual trauma survivors are vulnerable to emotional turmoil, anxiety, phobia, panic as well as difficulties in maintaining social connection which result in mental disorders. The Office of Trauma Services (2001, p. 2) further says that the majority of mentally ill female adults were sexually assaulted.

Substance abuse and alcohol

In keeping with Galaif et al (2001, p. 490), women who were abused sexually have a greater probability to consume alcohol than other women. Men on the other hand are likely to use drugs and those who have childhood trauma may form the majority of the drug abusers. Springs & Friedrich (1992, p. 428) argue that the behavior is likely to begin when the child is a teenager and continue even in adulthood. They result in serious alcohol addictions and drug abuse dependency if they are not helped overcome the childhood sexual trauma.

Health problems

The sexually abused child may have contracted sexually transmitted diseases and even HIV and cause the child to have poor health. The situation becomes complicated if the sexual abuse is not reported early and the child fails to get assistance in time. Besides sexually transmitted diseases, other symptoms such as nausea, headache, stomachache, vomiting, or pain in the body may accompany the infections (Liang2006, p. 44).

Banyard (2004, p. 230) discusses that during the sexual abuse, they may have obtained physical injuries for instance bruises and back injuries among others. Some of the problems may have an impact in the future. Other conditions that may arise include blood pressure, muscle tension, loss of appetite, and breathing disorders. They may also sustain skeletal structures that may be noticed later in life and cause them physiological problems.

When the victims lose appetite and engage in the consumption of alcohol or drug abuse their health begins to deteriorate because they do not feed well. This may further leave them prone to other diseases like lung cancer or lung diseases that result from smoking (Schofferman et al 1992, p. 140).

The Office of Trauma Services (2001, p. 3) indicates that some victims of childhood trauma may remain with infections they obtained from the sexual abuse and may in the future have poor sexual relationships. They may have multiple partners, may suffer from new infections, have reduced physical exercise, and end up being obese. They also argue that some diseases that appear in late adulthood may have a relationship with childhood sexual trauma. Heart problems, cancer, and physiological problems could have a relationship with the adult’s childhood abuse. Celinska & Siegel (2010, p. 450) indicates that a child who has been repeatedly sexually abused may end up suffering from brain damage. The child s brains structure can be affected and they may suffer the loss of memory. If not help the child may remain with the challenge even in adulthood.

Violence

Victims of childhood abuse are likely to be violent in adulthood as pointed out by Katerndahl et al (2005, p. 92). This means that they may become criminals in adulthood because they remain with anger if they are not assisted to overcome the sexual trauma. In their criminal activities, they sexually assault other children similar to what they experienced in their childhood. Most of the victims who result in violence and assaulting other children are men. Most of the victims take opportunities where children are neglected by their parents.

Other victims may choose to assault children from violent homes because it is likely that the parents and guardians have neglected the children. This situation may be similar to the situation the abuser was in and they do the same for another child just like someone abused them. The violence may not stop until the victim is assisted to heal the sexual trauma. What is more is that children and teenagers who survived sexual traumas can become extremely violent and end up in a juvenile court (Roesler & McKenzie 1994, p. 146).

Some of the juveniles who have been convicted have been sexually violated by people they trust and especially relatives. While in prison, the victims may also get sexually abused which makes the problem of dealing with the trauma even more complicated. The challenge of sexual trauma victims is that some may neglect their own children. Some may even abuse them and what is worse is that they may repeatedly and create a cycle of abuse (Ozer 2003, p. 55).

Disability

Violence may lead to physical disabilities and developmental disabilities. Victims who sustained injuries may have a disability which in most is in form of fractures and pelvic injuries. Brain injuries harm the development of the child’s brain. Due to the brain injury, the child’s growth may become very slow or stagnant. Some may have severe damage to the brain while others may have mild damage to the brain. Consequently, the child may end up with mental disorders (Katerndahl et al2005, p. 92).

Social problems

The victims suffering from mental disorders are prone to being homeless. This is because some end up being untreated and they are neglected and continue suffering. Some flee from their regular homes and live in the streets.

Although becoming homeless is not their preferred choice, some run away from abusive parents or relatives. This means that the victims choose to become homeless to run away from sexual abuse. Therefore, they lack the basic needs and have to support themselves. Some become criminals while others find other means of sustaining their economic life through prostitution. Thus, they do not give meaning to family life and are less prestigious about their past life. The victims will engage in risky sexual activities like failing to use protection when compared with others as discussed by Martin (2005). Other victims will run away and never return, thus they will not enjoy education privileges like other children and may never have the opportunity to attend an educational institute. Therefore, will have economic challenges as adults and remain a low-income earner in society (Soberman et al 2002).

Another problem disclosed by Katerndahl et al (2005, p. 92) which may arise in their social life is being victimized again. Since they have fallen prey to abuse and are dealing with trauma, they may be more vulnerable and be victimized once again.

Relational outcomes of childhood sexual trauma in females

The outcomes of sexual abuse can reveal in adulthood long after the abuse happened. The Public Health Agency of Canada (2009, p. 1) points that most children who undergo sexual abuse as children are in most cases, girls. They are abused by a close person whom they trust in most cases at their homes. Later in life, they are likely to find refuge in alcohol. What is more, is that when growing up they may fall prey to sexual abuse again during and after adolescent. In line with Hopper (2011, p. 1) females who have experienced sexual trauma may have trouble recalling the precedence of events leading to the sexual abuse. In the initial stages of recuperating, females tend to go through depression first and later anger resurfaces. Thereafter, females involve the parents, friends, religious leaders, or professionals in the healing process.

Faller (1989, p. 289) argues that girls are likely to be abused by men in most cases. Furthermore, girls are abused at a much tender age than boys. What is more, is that more females than male victims are abused.

Relational outcomes of childhood sexual trauma in males

Boys who suffer from sexual trauma are fewer than girls. They are abused by people they trust teachers or caregivers. More boys are likely to be sodomized than girls. Boys have hardship recovering. Their initial reaction is anger which is later followed by depression. The victims are likely to hold on to drug abuse and they dread being involved in homosexuality and try to minimize chances of another sexual abuse (Public Health Agency of Canada 2009, p. 1).

Boys are abused by both men and women as indicated by Faller (1989, p. 288). Those who abuse male children are also believed to be habitual abusers. In this case, many of the abusers are men with a few women.

Impact of sexual trauma on marital relationship

Finkelhor (2010, p. 1425) notes that effects of childhood sexual trauma manifest in the sexual lives of the victims. After marriage, some report unfulfilling sexual experiences. Switzer (2009, p. 3) argues that couples may have problems in their relationship if one or both of the partners encountered childhood sexual abuse. Their families may lack unity since the individual victims may have personal problems and distress. A professional counselor should pay attention to such childhood traumas as helping victims overcome the trauma may be the solution to marital distress.

Trauma-Focused cognitive behavior therapy (TF-CBT)

This main objective is to give support to patients suffering from trauma assistance. Many victims have experienced PTSD, distress and have struggled to overcome emotions that come along with sexual trauma. It is possible to give a focused treatment that will help victim recovers and live normal lives with reduced stress (Cohen, Mannarino, & Staron, 2009). This therapy aims to protect the victim from traumatic memories. After a period of time, the therapy is reviewed to establish its success. In case the therapy is not helpful, it is discontinued.

This therapy is used in combating negative behavior and emotional responses that result from trauma caused by physical or sexual abuse that caretakers, children, and adolescents may be faced with (hopper, 2011). During this treatment, the specialists try to obtain the details of the trauma by providing a secure and stable environment to the patients which will help them disclose such details. At this stage, cognitive and learning theories of treatment are employed and are effective. In this treatment, the patient is shown his distorted perceptions and is taught how to revert those trauma-related attributes. The parents of such children are also equipped with the skills that they can employ to help their children cope with the physiological ramification that is associated with the abuse (Cohen, Mannarino, & Staron, 2009). The condition, in this case, is that the parents should not be the abusers for them to be involved in this treatment. According to Cohen, Mannarino, & Staron, “This form of therapy integrates interventions that are specifically tailored to meet the needs of people experiencing emotional and psychological difficulties as a result of a trauma and combine them with humanistic, cognitive-behavioral and familial strategies” (Cohen, Mannarino, & Staron , 2009).

Guidelines for therapy

Saunders (2004, p. 106) points out that guidelines are very important and can be used to help individuals with sexual trauma. He argues that it should be noted that child abuse is not acceptable and should not be encouraged. Swenson & Kolko (2000) note that the victims should be made to understand that they are not to blame. If it is a relative who sexually assaulted the child, they should be made to understand that whatever the reason for the assault the sexual abuse is wrong.

Ammerman et al (1999) say that the child should be protected from sexual abuse and if they are victims be given assistance as soon as possible. Speltz (2002) articulates that it may be necessary to ensure that the child is also in a safe environment during and after the treatment. Discharge should therefore be granted on the grounds that the child will be safe not only from sexual abuse but also from physical abuse.

The background of the child’s sexual trauma must be evaluated and analyzed to offer the best treatment to the child. This must be done before any treatment is given. The best treatment will be implemented and the treatment is assessed from time to time to note the progress or the need for additional help (Silberg2000). The treatment must address the actual abuse problem and offer the correct intervention. If there was physical abuse the child will also need medical attention and must not be neglected (American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children, 1997).

Although the family may be important in the healing process the treatment must be done to the individual victim without the interference of the family. The treatment must be designed such that the child will be protected in the future (Chemtob et al 2002). Saunders (2004, p. 108) argues that this is important for the individuals who may have been involved in substance abuse. If the abuser was a family member, they may also go for treatment. However, if the treatment is not benefiting the intended problem then the treatment must be withdrawn.

Stages of recovery

Briere & Jordan (2004, p. 1254) argue that treatment is important and can lead to healing and productive lives. It should be viewed positively and should be offered immediately after the victims realize the need for it. Giving support to the victim is an important part of healing. The Public Health Agency of Canada (2009, p. 1) indicates that boys and girls recover differently as individuals. However, there are dominant characteristics of the people recovering from sexual trauma.

Denial

Individuals may fail to accept that they had the awful experience and venture into drug abuse and consumption of alcohol. Some individuals may never walk out of this stage even in adulthood. The memories of the sexual abuse may remain very clear and the person may grow into adulthood while in denial (Shergill2009).

Confused awareness

This stage is characterized by a lot of fear and anxiety and sometimes hopelessness. They experience the victims relate their sexual trauma with the present (Bonner 2000).

Reaching out

Briere & Jordan (2004, p. 1255) says that the victim reaches out for support from others after keeping the experience a secret, and they share out their encounters. They may approach a professional counselor for help or even attend a support group.

Anger

The previous stage where the victim reaches out leaves them with adequate information on the sexual abuse and the possible consequences. This awareness invites feelings of anger which make the victim want to share and want to confront people who were involved. The victim may channel the anger towards people who were in a position to offer assistance or played a role during the time of abuse Shergill (2009).

Depression

Even in adulthood, the victim may remember certain threats the abuser used to scare them to give in. Such memories generate negative feelings where the victim feels helpless. The victim hardly considers that they can positively impact their situation. In this case, they can be given support to overcome depression Briere & Jordan (2004, p. 1255).

Clarity of emotions

Learning to deal with emotions is an important stage of recovering. The victim manages their emotions by identifying them and solving the negative emotions without causing any harm to anyone. The benefits of this stage can be maximized if the victim s in a support group. In the support group, they can share their feelings with others with similar emotions (Bonner 2000).

Regrouping

This is the stage where victims regain their ability to trust again. They learn how to believe in themselves and then learn to trust people they interact with. Positive thinking is adopted by the victim as they usher in a positive lifestyle. They are able to deal with the experiences of the past and handle the effects positively as well as make long-term plans.

Moving

The final transitional stage is where the victim actualizes what they have learned to practice during the healing process. Their emotions are separated from the past and the victim chooses to live an appositive lifestyle. The skills obtained from the process aid in dealing with the memories and positively usher in a positive lifestyle with self-esteem (Jonzon & Lindblad, 2005, p. 660).

Giving effective support to people with sexual trauma

Overcoming the challenging emotions that come with sexual trauma can be difficult without the support of people. One can give support by listening to the child and informing them that you believe what they have disclosed is correct. Ensure that you are available to offer emotional support and recommend that they seek professional assistance. One must avoid criticism and being in charge of the conversation and make them feel comfortable. Assuring them of confidentiality is also a necessary step. Moreover, effective assistance would be more effective if one seeks more information on sexual trauma (Public Health Agency of Canada 2009, p. 1).

Conclusion

Sedlak & Broadhurst (1996) point out that sexual trauma is a problem that must be given attention. One in every six Americans has encountered child abuse. Girls are more vulnerable than boys. Abusers are often people the child knows and trusts.

Sexual abuse is devastating and can lead to psychological effects and long-term effects. The psychological effects include fear, helplessness, and powerlessness, guilt and shame, isolation, betrayal, anger, sadness, flashbacks, stress, and personality disorder. Long-term effects include damaged good syndrome, depression and anxiety, dissociation, sexual difficulties, self-destructive behavior, relationship problems, parenting problems, mental health problems, substance abuse and alcohol, health problems, violence, disability, and social problems.

Childhood trauma may cause women to use alcohol while men are likely to use drugs. Women have a greater chance of forgetting the actual sexual abuse than men. Women’s immediate reaction is depression a while men’s immediate reaction is anger. In a relationship where one or both partners have sexual trauma, there is the likelihood that they will have problems in their sexual relationship (Finkelhor, 2010, p. 1425).

There is a therapy that is of help to victims of sexual trauma. TF-CBT therapy can be implemented to offer assistance. Guidelines must be followed to offer help to the actual problem. Children must also be protected and be given assistance that enables them to develop. The recovery stages are denial, confused awareness, reaching out, anger, depression, and clarity of emotions regrouping, moving, and giving effective support to people with sexual trauma (Public Health Agency of Canada, 2009, p. 1). It is possible to recover from childhood sexual trauma.

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