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The following is a collection, a summary of the devastating effects of child abuse to which many authors have contributed. Among them Bass and Davis, "The Courage To Heal". This summary of the findings of many researchers, writers and clinicians clearly demonstrates or clearly outlines the extent to which every aspect of the survivor's life has been affected by the abuse. These symptoms, or after effects of sexual abuse are experienced to varying degrees and in varying combinations by each survivor of sexual abuse. Some survivors experience a few of these after effects while many others live with many of these after after effects in a lingering and on-going way.



Emotionally, Sexual Abuse Survivors May Experience:

* guilt--shame
* fear--anxiety
* self-blame--dissatisfaction
* powerlessness--helplessness
* inability to say no to others in relationships
* difficulty nurturing self
* lack of trust of own perceptions and feelings
* emotional shut down or 'numbing'
* inability to see the positive aspects of oneself
* perfectionism
* 'splitting' mind from body
* control at all costs
* feeling invisible
* problems giving or receiving affection
* difficulty relying on others



Physical Signs of Child Sexual Abuse May Include:

* physical symptoms with no medical cause
* feeling betrayed and repulsed by own body
* withdrawing or flinching from touch
* sleep disturbances
* not being 'present' in own body
* denial of bodily needs
* high pain tolerance
* eating disorders
* drug/alcohol addiction
* suicidal thoughts/behaviors
* self-mutilation
* self-imposed isolation


Relationship Problems Might Include:

* idealizing, overvaluing, or devaluing others/self
* humiliating interactions
* fear of committment
* difficulty with trusting self/others with intimacy
* self-imposed isolation or excessive neediness
* toleration of abusive patterns
* triangulating others
* emotional and physical care-taking of others at own expense
* involvement inabusive, criticizing relationships
* giving or receiving abuse

Physical signs for children can include:

* excessive masturbation/or age inappropriate stimuli
* gagging excessively w/ fingers, spoons,toys
* speech impediments/stuttering, remembering
* "NEW" interest in body parts or blood
* age innaprropriate knowledge and use of sexual conotaions.
* sleeping patters change/stalling/sleeping alone.
* NIGHTMARES, repeditively waking screaming
* failing or sporatic eating habits
* nervous habits, biting nails, hands, twist hair.
* higher anxiety level than before
* startling reflex is dramatic
* hard to satisfy with the simplest things
* child becmes very "clingly" to one parent
* refusal to go somewhere school/babysitters,grandparents.
* "secrets"
* unusual aggressiveness
* bedwetting/soiling after potty training
* vaginal dischage/penile disturbances, continual diaper rash, anal rash/bleeding/cracking
* does not want to "poop"/diaper changed
* reoccuring vaginal infections diffuculty walking or sitting
* pain on urination burning etc.
* not wanting to be touched or cuddled

Sexual Symptoms can include:

* inability to differentiate/combine sex, affection, intimacy
* sexual orientation confusion
* violent or sadomasochistic fantasies/behaviors
* unwanted pregnancy/abortion
* loss of sexual desire
* sexual exploitation through prostitution
* genital numbness
* sexualizing all relationships
* pain during intercourse
* sexual guilt about sexual pleasure
* belief that one's only worth is sexual
* inability to orgasm alone or with a partner
* intrusive flashbacks of forced sex
* alternating between sexual abstinence and compulsivity
* deep hatred of body and its sexual responses
* sexually transmitted disease
* sexual revictimization

Behavioral Effects of Sexual Abuse May Include:

* hyperactive, hypervigilant behaviors
* impulsively entering/leaving relationships
* compulsive spending, stealing, lying, gambling or working
* dangerous risk-taking behaviors

One resource used for this page was the book: "Aching For Love" by Mary Anne Klausner and Bobbie Hasselbring

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