Help for Victims of Sexual Abuse
Saturday, December 4, 2021 by James H. Dotson Jr. Ph.D.

Sexual abuse refers to actions of a sexual nature that are unwelcomed, uncomfortable, or forced. Some examples of sexual abuse include inappropriate sexual remarks; insisting that the victim touch the perpetrator’s body; inducing the victim to view sexual activity of others in person or through media (such as pornographic videos or magazines); and inappropriate or unwanted sexual contact or activity (such as fondling; touching of genitals, breasts, or buttocks; oral-genital contact; incest; molestation; and rape).

Numbers and the Consequences

According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), every 68 seconds another American is sexually assaulted, and every 9 minutes, that victim is a child.

The consequences of sexual abuse for a child may include:

  • Injury, illness, or disease
  • Being withdrawn, depressed, or anxious
  • Lacking spontaneity
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Having sleep difficulties
  • Headaches
  • Stomachaches
  • Bed-wetting
  • Thumb sucking
  • An adverse effect on the child’s development
  • An experience that bends the child in the direction of the abuse

Unfortunately, the consequences of childhood sexual abuse may extend well into the adult years of a victim. Adult survivors of child sexual abuse may struggle long-term with:

  • Depression
  • Self-loathing
  • A high need for control
  • A sense of helplessness and hopelessness
  • Being emotionally numb
  • Self-harming behaviors, suicide attempts, or suicide
  • Difficulty in relationships, being afraid of physical closeness and being frigid, even in marriage
  • Questions about God and proclamations about God’s love

RAINN also reports that 1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime, and 1 in 33 American men have experienced an attempted or completed rape in his lifetime. In most cases of rape, the victim knew the perpetrator.

Rape victims tend to experience many of the same consequences as those already listed above. In addition, they tend to:

  • Replay the incident again, and again and again in their mind or in the telling of their story.
  • Be hypervigilant about the possibility of further victimization, resulting in a heightened sense of feeling isolated, vulnerable, and helpless, which in turn can lead the individual to self-imposed restrictions on their usual range of activities.
  • Blame self and question what they did to bring it on.
  • Experience increased stress that can increase illness due to lowered immune system functioning.

Get Help

The wounds left behind from sexual abuse are not likely to self-heal. If you are a victim of sexual abuse, it is critical to get help to work toward your safety and healing. The impact of sexual abuse is profound. If left unaddressed, the consequences of the abuse may interfere with your own wellbeing, and the quality of your relationships with others.

So, what can you do and where can you find help to start your journey to healing?

One resource I highly recommend is RAINN, where you can get help, resources, and/or a referral to your local crisis center. RAINN is the nation’s largest anti-sexual assault organization and operates:

You can find additional resources in the Abuse & Exploitation section of the TFT Resource Center.

Take the next step and move toward your healing.

Copyright © 2021 by Training for Transformation, Inc.

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