Super Lawyers
Illinois State Bar Association
Justia Lawyer Rating
Million Dollar Advocates Forum
Avvo Rating
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers BBB Business Review

Impact of Childhood Sexual Abuse in Adults

Are you the victim of sexual assault that occurred during your childhood years?

Have you remained silent, never speaking out about inappropriate sexual activity you were forced to endure? Did your abuser escape the criminal justice system?

At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys represent sexual assault victims to ensure they are compensated for their damages. Our legal team understands that as a survivor of sexual assault, there are reasons why you fail to report the horrific act that led to your nightmares.

Call our Chicago sexual abuse lawyers at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) to schedule a free consultation in a confidential setting to discuss what happened. All personal, intimate, sensitive, and confidential information you share remains private through an attorney-client relationship.

Impact Sex Abuse Adulthood

Childhood sexual abuse is considered among the most heinous types of abuse a child can face. Moreover, the abuse can predictably create a long-term impact on the child's physical and mental development.

Depression, anxiety, psychological disorders, difficulty trusting others, and difficulty forming close relationships later in life are usually symptomatic of an individual suffering sexual abuse. Unfortunately, some of these conditions can persist during maturity and well into adulthood.

What is Sexually Abusive Behavior?

Sexually abusive behavior usually involves touching, petting, kissing, sexual intercourse, or other sexual contact and forcing the child to participate in a sexual act. No minor can give informed consent to participate in sexual activities.

In addition, child sex abuse includes inappropriate behavior with male and female victims, where the child is subjected to abusive behavior solely for the adult's pleasure or desires.

In many cases of child sexual abuse, the perpetrator engaging in inappropriate sexual activity is often known to the victim, complicating the issue.

The relationship between the perpetrator and victim of childhood sexual abuse changes drastically after the inappropriate sexual behavior. Many survivors of sexual abuse during childhood develop a fear of their perpetrator or become anxious and uncomfortable in the predator's presence.

The Effects of Childhood Sexual Abuse

The effects of childhood sexual abuse can be classified into immediate, lifelong effects and health problems, where each risk factor can impact the life of a child's health and well-being significantly. The direct impact includes:

  • Fear
  • Withdrawal
  • Anxiety
  • Guilt
  • Nervousness
  • Shock
  • Confusion
  • Denial
  • Isolation
  • Grief
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms (PTSD)

Male and female survivors of sexual molestation can also develop longer-term effects, including depression, anxiety, self-destructive behavior, homelessness, and drug & alcohol abuse.

Commonly, the child will develop lifelong social isolation, distrust of others, low self-esteem, high-risk sexual behavior, and multiple sexual partners later in life.

In adulthood, the sexually abused victim could struggle to form intimate relationships, lack emotional commitment in romantic relationships, develop behavior problems, mental health issues, suicidal thoughts (suicidal ideation), attempted suicide, and eating disorders.

Impact Adulthood Sexual Abuse

Childhood Sexual Assault Victims Rarely Trust Adults

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a common occurrence in sexual assault cases involving children that creates an inability to trust adults, including a family member, to discuss what happened or receive adequate mental health counseling.

In addition to abuse, sexual assault survivors may live with sexually transmitted diseases for years without receiving treatment to avoid the unknown consequences of speaking out about the predator's behavior. In nearly every case, the predator avoids criminal justice and possibly harms others.

Revictimization of Child Sexual Abuse Survivors In Adolescence

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that those who have suffered child sexual molestation are more likely to suffer further abuse during adolescence.

Any sexual assaults in the future may be at the hands of the same or different perpetrators, and it's often due to the fear of speaking out that takes hold in a victim of childhood sexual abuse after the first abuse.

Adult Manifestations of Childhood Sexual Abuse

Adults of sexual victimization during childhood suffer from many problems, including an increased risk of:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Dysfunctional relationships
  • Confusion and conflict about their sexual orientation
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Panic attacks
  • Self-harm
  • Major depression
  • Alcohol and drug abuse
  • Personality and behavioral disorders
  • Mental health problems

Many sexual abuse survivors will develop inappropriate behavior during maturity, often displayed as a bad temper, anger, trauma, violence, abuse, or aggression concerning seemingly minor or trivial issues. Low self-esteem is also another manifestation of childhood sexual abuse in adults.

The Long-Term Effects of Child Abuse In Adults

Child sexual violence dramatically affects a child's mental and physical growth, and the signs are visible even when these children grow up into adults. In addition, research has revealed the lifelong effects of child sexual abuse in adulthood.

Several targeted studies suggest that children who experienced abuse are more likely to develop various physical and mental health issues.

Adults victimized by physical abuse, neglect, and inappropriate sexual behavior as a child are more likely to develop more severe medical conditions than the general population. Some of these health and social conditions associated with past abuse include:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Arthritis
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Gynecological problems
  • Headaches
  • Heart problems
  • Hepatitis
  • High blood pressure
  • Liver troubles
  • Mental health disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Psychosis
  • Sexually transmitted disease
  • Stroke
  • Substance abuse

An American representative study based on the National Co-Morbidity Survey found that adults sexually molested during childhood were twice as likely to be depressed.

Additionally, the same study showed that childhood sexual abuse victims were at least six times more likely to have a post-stress traumatic disorder than those who had not experienced such abuse during their childhood.

How Abuse Affects Future Relationships

Being sexually molested when young can severely disrupt how a person feels attached to someone else and lead to attachment disruptions, leading to dysfunctional relationships with family, spouse, or children later on.

However, human beings are social animals by nature, and our ability to make attachments with others or build emotional bonds makes us feel safe and secure.

Childhood abuse ruptures this ability to build bonds at a fundamental level and thus forces us to live insecure lives where we don't feel comfortable with those around us. While this may seem a trivial issue at the surface, it can have some serious long-term consequences for someone who has suffered abuse during childhood.

Several studies have suggested that people with memories of childhood abuse find it difficult to trust others, including their immediate family members, spouses, friends, or children.

The inability to trust others leads to dysfunctional and unhappy relationships later in life.

People who suffered childhood abuse also find it challenging to build romantic relationships. As a result, divorce rates are usually much higher among the abused than in the general population.

Sex Abuse Impact Adulthood

The Childhood Sexual Abuse Impact on Relationships

The most immediate effect of sexual abuse when young is often to damage close relationships when the child who recently experienced abuse starts acting fearfully when around others, including relatives. In isolation, the child may prefer to spend time away from everyone, become silent, and stop interacting with others.

Parents and other family members may not understand what is wrong, but these are signs of child sexual abuse and must never be taken lightly. It's essential to find out the reason behind this abrupt change in the child's behavior.

Parents believing the child was sexually abused should talk to them softly and inquire about what changed their behavior. There is a possibility that the child will open up if they are convinced that their parent wants to genuinely help.

How to Talk About Childhood Sexual Abuse

People who have suffered sexual molestation during childhood are often reluctant to talk about it, as speaking out often triggers painful memories they do not want to confront.

Experts are divided on the best way to talk about childhood sexual abuse. Still, most agree that parents must educate their children about sexual molestation. Knowing about the problem allows the child to protect themselves if the situation arises.

Adults who experienced childhood sexual abuse avoid discussing what happened, and initiating a conversation with others is often much more challenging than speaking with others who have also experienced the trauma.

How to Deal With Childhood Sexual Abuse

There is no one size fits all approach to childhood sexual abuse as each case is unique. However, in cases of minor abuse, it may be possible to talk with the child and soothe their nerves by arranging one or more sessions with a counselor.

At the same time, cases that involve violence involving severe harm to the body or mind of the victim are often the most complex to handle.

Treatment for severe cases can be long-lasting, and the child may take years to recover from the trauma. Therefore, parents of a child who has suffered sexual abuse should immediately contact psychologists or counselors specializing in sex abuse.

Also, consider changing your interactions with the child to suit their unique needs after being sexually abused. As a parent, you can do a lot to calm down your child, and with timely intervention, it is possible to stop any long-term damage to their psyche due to the abuse.

The Common Outcome of Childhood Sexual Abuse

Child sexual abuse primarily interferes with the child's development and growth and, in many cases, can dramatically impact their physical and mental well-being. In severe cases, sexual violence may lead to lifelong health issues in the form of serious ailments requiring regular medical attention.

Despite the challenges posed by child abuse, its trauma can be overcome by working closely with the victimized child or adult.

Scientific Research on Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse

More is being learned on the lifelong effects of sexual abuse and how it impacts victims into adulthood.

Although statistics vary on the prevalence of sexual abuse, it is estimated that up to 33% of adult women and 18% of adult men suffered sexual abuse as a child or adolescent.

The consequences of being sexually abused when young could create long-lasting problems in adulthood. Various psychological and emotional disorders can detract from living healthy, happy lives.

Childhood sexual abuse is considered among the most heinous types of abuse a child can face. Moreover, the abuse can predictably create a long-term impact on the child's physical and mental development.

Depression, anxiety, psychological disorders, difficulty trusting others, and difficulty forming close relationships later in life are usually symptomatic of an adult survivor suffering childhood sexual abuse. Unfortunately, some of these conditions can persist during maturity and well into adulthood.

Sex Abuse Lawyer

Common Adult Symptoms Of Childhood Sexual Abuse

For many adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse, the trauma of their abuse can leave a lasting and detrimental effect on their adult lives. The emotional scars can affect every aspect of their daily lives, from relationships to job performance.

Although many persevere in leading productive lives, they still may suffer from pain and emotional problems rooted in their abusive childhoods. Some of the most common adult symptoms associated with sexual abuse are the disorders so prevalent in today's society.

Although not everyone with these disorders was sexually abused, it is fair to say that many abused individuals are more likely to have these emotional and psychological issues.

These can include:

  • Depression: One of the most common symptoms reported among adult survivors of sexual abuse when young is depression. These symptoms can consist of a negative self-image, feelings of unworthiness, and even suicidal thoughts or actions.
  • Eating and sleep disorders are linked with depression: Adult's who were sexually assaulted when young may have difficulty establishing regular sleep patterns. Also, eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia have been linked to sexual abuse.
  • Anxiety and stress disorders: As a child, many survivors who experienced sexual abuse when young experience ongoing fear and anxiety, often prone to phobias and anxiety attacks. In addition, many of the long-term anxiety effects have been compared to post-traumatic stress disorders experienced by war veterans.
  • Relationship issues: Feelings of distrust and fear of intimacy can follow sexually abused children into adulthood. These issues can affect their ability to maintain healthy relationships with family, friends, and romantic partners.
  • Sexual function: Many child sexual abuse survivors are left with issues regarding sexual relationships. These issues can include high-risk promiscuous behavior, sexual difficulties, and, in some women, pain during sexual intercourse.

The impact of sexual abuse as a child can taint almost every aspect of an adult survivor's life. Although counseling and therapy can help victims overcome these difficulties, the emotional scars can be with them for the rest of their life.

The Consequences of Child Sexual Abuse

An estimated one out of five men and one out of three women have a history of childhood sexual abuse in the US. Many victims who experienced sexual abuse find therapy that helps them cope with their abusive pasts, while others struggle with depression, anxiety, and ongoing emotional and psychological problems.

A history of sexual abuse can create a life-long battle to overcome the child abuse so tragically forced upon them as children.

As attorneys who have had the honor of representing individuals sexually traumatized in their youth, Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC is committed to holding responsible parties accountable for their acts.

Many of these cases require litigation. Because of that, our office takes every precaution that makes the process as smooth as possible. Indeed, you are never alone in these legal matters; we are your legal partner during the entire process. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Survivors Hiring Sexual Abuse Attorneys to Resolve their Compensation Case

Did you suffer the severe consequences of sexual molestation recently, or were you abused decades ago? Did the traumatic experience leave you with emotional and psychological scars?

At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, we provide legal support to victims of sexual trauma and can help you hold the abuser accountable. Call our law office today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) or use the contact form to schedule a free consultation.

Our personal injury law firm will provide a private, safe environment and listen as you tell us what happened. All sensitive or confidential information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.

We accept all personal injury claims, sexual abuse cases, and wrongful death lawsuits through contingency fee agreements. This arrangement ensures you pay no upfront fees until we resolve your civil claim through a negotiated settlement or jury trial award.

Resources:

Learn more about child sexual violence at the links below:

Client Reviews
★★★★★
Jonathan Rosenfeld was professionally objective, timely, and knowledgeable. Also, his advice was extremely effective regarding my case. In addition, Jonathan was understanding and patient pertaining to any of my questions or concerns. I was very happy with the end result and I highly recommend Jonathan Rosenfeld. Michonne Proulx
★★★★★
Extremely impressed with this law firm. They took control of a bad motorcycle crash that left my uncle seriously injured. Without any guarantee of a financial recovery, they went out and hired accident investigators and engineers to help prove how the accident happened. I am grateful that they worked on a contingency fee basis as there was no way we could have paid for these services on our own. Ethan Armstrong
★★★★★
This lawyer really helped me get compensation for my motorcycle accident case. I know there is no way that I could have gotten anywhere near the amount that Mr. Rosenfeld was able to get to settle my case. Thank you. Daniel Kaim
★★★★★
Jonathan helped my family heal and get compensation after our child was suffered a life threatening injury at daycare. He was sympathetic and in constant contact with us letting us know all he knew every step of the way. We were so blessed to find Jonathan! Giulia
★★★★★
Jonathan did a great job helping my family navigate through a lengthy lawsuit involving my grandmother's death in a nursing home. Through every step of the case, Jonathan kept my family informed of the progression of the case. Although our case eventually settled at a mediation, I really was impressed at how well prepared Jonathan was to take the case to trial. Lisa