Common Physical Effects of Childhood Sexual Abuse on Women
Exact numbers are difficult to pinpoint, but as many as 40% of American children experience some form of sexual abuse. In a significant number of cases, children experience ongoing abuse, often at the hands of a parent, caregiver, or adult in a position of authority. The betrayal of trust, not to mention the act itself, causes severe psychological effects. The physical effects, some of which are outlined below, are equally as devastating.
Thanks to a recent change in the law, it is much easier for survivors of childhood sexual abuse to seek justice and receive compensation. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
More importantly, a legal claim forces negligent actors to face the consequences of the abusive actions they thought they had gotten away with. No one should ever have to endure sexual abuse. Holding individuals and the institutions that harbor abusers accountable for their actions is a way to help mitigate the proliferation of abuse against other innocent people.
If you or a loved one was sexually abused in an institution (church, detention facility, school, scouting organization, et cetera) or by someone who worked for some such institution, you are not alone. There are people ready to help you get the justice you deserve. If you are ready to talk, call The Yost Legal Group (1-800-YOST-LAW) for a free, confidential consultation with a compassionate Baltimore City sexual abuse survivor attorney.
Overall Physical and Sexual Effects
Sexual abuse during childhood often starts a downward spiral that ends with severe physical maladies like:
- Chronic and diffuse pain, especially abdominal or pelvic pain
- Lower pain threshold
- Anxiety and depression
- Eating disorders have been attributed to childhood sexual abuse
The outcomes of these physical conditions are often life-threatening. Adults abused as children are four to five times more likely to abuse alcohol and illicit drugs. They are also twice as likely to smoke, be physically inactive, and be severely obese.
Sexual effects include disturbances of desire, arousal, and orgasm, mostly due to the physical pain that sexual abuse causes.
Additionally, survivors are more likely to have contracted a sexually transmitted infection and engage in other risk-taking behaviors. People who have been sexually assaulted are also at a higher risk of contracting human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Gynecologic problems later in life (including chronic pelvic pain, dyspareunia, vaginismus, and nonspecific vaginitis) are common diagnoses among survivors.
Other effects begin at an even younger age. Higher rates of early adolescent or unintended pregnancy and prostitution are also associated with sexual abuse survivors.
“An Abnormal Condition Resulting from a Previous Disease”
That is the definition of “sequela.” It is med-speak for an aggravation of a pre-existing condition. In the sexual abuse context, sequelae symptoms are common and varied. More extreme symptoms can be associated with abuse onset at an early age, extended or frequent abuse, incest by a parent, or use of force.
Common life events, like death, birth, marriage, or divorce, may trigger the return of symptoms for a childhood sexual abuse survivor. The primary aftereffects of childhood sexual abuse include the following:
- Emotional Reactions: Emotions such as fear, shame, humiliation, guilt, and self–blame are common and can lead to depression and anxiety.
- PTSD: Survivors may experience intrusive or recurring thoughts of the abuse as well as nightmares or flashbacks.
- Distorted Self-Perception: Survivors often develop a belief that they caused the sexual abuse and that they deserved it. These beliefs may result in self-destructive relationships.
A Baltimore sexual abuse lawyer can hold abusers legally responsible for sequelae under the eggshell skull rule.
You Are Not Alone—It Was Not Your Fault
The Yost Legal Group is working diligently to use the time we have to help childhood sexual abuse victims who are ready to come forward, speak their truths, and seek the justice they deserve. For a free, confidential consultation with an experienced sexual abuse survivor attorney in Baltimore, contact The Yost Legal Group today at 1-800-967-8529