Childhood sexual abuse is, sadly, far more common than you might realize. It’s estimated that more than one out of every three women, and one out of every five males, has experienced some form of sexual trauma during their childhood. When children are molested, they don’t know how to speak up about it, reach out or get the help they need. And until it’s resolved, that trauma can have far-reaching effects they carry with them throughout the rest of their lives – resulting in PTSD, intimacy disorders, mental illnesses and addiction.
The good news is, if you’ve been a victim of childhood sexual abuse, you’re not destined to live a life of victimhood and pain. You have the power to change that narrative. Let’s take a look at some effects of this type of trauma, and what can be done to heal from it.
Effects of Unresolved Childhood Sexual Trauma
At some point, we all internalize adverse childhood experiences, which then show up in our lives in ways that are sometimes even beyond our own ability to understand. Here are some of the ways childhood sexual abuse can affect our adult lives:
Being sexually molested early in life causes us to form ideas and behaviors around sex and relationships that might be harmful to us or inhibit our ability to have healthy, loving sex and partnerships. Children who are sexually abused may become hyper-sexualized; they may have problems with poor self-image and promiscuity later on; or they may want to avoid things that are sexual or physical in nature at all costs. This can make it hard for them to relate to people in healthy ways.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Children who have experienced significant trauma have a high chance of developing PTSD, which causes them to believe that the world is an unsafe place for them to be. People with PTSD may have nightmares and be scared of the dark or afraid to go to sleep; they may have flashbacks or unwillingly replay traumatic scenes in their head over and over; or they might harm themselves or have suicidal thoughts.
Substance Abuse, Dependency and Addiction
Many people with PTSD turn to substances like drugs and alcohol to take the edge off of the extreme anguish they constantly feel – a short-lived solution that can very quickly spiral out of control and lead to a deeply entrenched addiction. In fact, some addiction treatment professionals say that as many as 90 percent of their clients have a history of abuse of some kind. Unfortunately, drugs and alcohol only serve to complicate PTSD, making its symptoms even worse.
Healing From Childhood Sexual Trauma, From the Inside Out
Trauma deeply affects your physical, emotional, and spiritual health. It changes your view of the world, causing you to believe your future is dark and the world is a threatening place. Treating it requires special attention to be paid to multiple aspects of your self – from your brain chemistry, to your biochemical functioning, to your spiritual needs and desires, to your physical wellbeing.
Through The Sanctuary’s integrated treatment program, you can learn to release your destructive patterns, calm your mind so you can listen to your soul’s message, and find the sense of inner peace you’ve been longing for. Our experienced team of doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, energy therapists and alternative wellness practitioners are ready to help you discover how happy, whole and alive you can be – all you have to do is take the first step.
To learn more about how you can deal with seemingly overwhelming challenges, see The Sanctuary’s co-director Kelley Alexander’s video on Finding Hope in the Darkest Times.
For more information on our program options, call us at (877) 710-3385 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.