Sexual abuse has profound impacts on the way children develop mentally, socially and sexually. In this crucial stage of development, we learn how to build healthy relationships and grow our coping skills – and for those things to happen, we require an environment where we feel safe and loved. But sexually traumatizing experiences can shift the way we see the world. They can make us view our future negatively, feeling like we’re forever doomed to live a life of pain and unease. They make us feel that we’re always unsafe, and affect the way we interact with the people around us as a result. When you see the world through a lens of fear, it becomes very difficult to trust others.
If you’ve experienced sexual trauma, your tendency might be to avoid anything that reminds you of what happened, avoid conversations about the topic and even avoid forming relationships out of an inability to truly trust others. How deeply distressing this is gets worse the closer your relationship is to the abuser. Despite the profound, long-term impacts of sexual abuse, most people don’t report it. Children who incur this type of abuse are often made to think it was their fault and manipulated into keeping it a secret. Even as adults, survivors feel enduring shame and self-blame, which only gets worse when it’s reinforced by social stigma. But facing sexual abuse is important. The damage from this type of trauma can have severe consequences including depression, anxiety, PTSD, sexual dysfunction and self-harm – and can affect you for a lifetime if it’s left untreated. Talk to An Expert