Q: I was sexually abused as a child. What are some of the ways in which it may still be affecting me now?
A: Unfortunately, child sexual abuse happens far more frequently than was ever suspected. Where it was once perceived as a girls’ problem, there are many who now recognize that boys are probably victimized just as often.
Sexual abuse of a child is the ultimate betrayal of trust and innocence. If you were sexually abused as a child, there are many ways that it may be still be affecting your life. You may have low self esteem, and feel powerless. You may feel ashamed, dirty, or bad. Many abuse survivors are perfectionists, suffer from depression, and panic attacks. Frequently, they are self abusive with suicide attempts, eating disorders, alcohol and substance abuse or the tendency to put themselves into dangerous situations. Abuse survivors often have difficulty trusting others, and are frequently in relationships that just do not work. Many experience an emotional numbness and go through life feeling hurt and out of step with others.
These are just a few of the common residual effects of child sexual abuse. Other conditions of childhood may have similar results. Although it paints a bleak picture, the important thing to remember is that you can heal from the abuse. You, however, need a skilled therapist who is knowledgeable and extensively trained in dealing with this specific problem.