Presented here is a research-based article written by Apoorva Choudhary, an RCI-registered Clinical Psychologist, and Ph.D. Scholar. In this research-based article, she explores the impact of childhood sexual trauma on mental health.
Purpose: A major goal of this article is to raise awareness about the long-term effects of childhood sexual trauma on mental health. The article highlights the various mental health consequences of childhood sexual trauma. It emphasizes the importance of seeking professional help, connecting with support groups, practicing self-care, considering medication, and being kind to oneself throughout the healing process. Overall, the article’s purpose is to provide valuable information and resources to help individuals heal from childhood sexual trauma and to support them on their healing journey.
BREAKING THE SILENCE: SPEAKING OUT ABOUT CHILDHOOD SEXUAL TRAUMA
One of the most horrifying things a person can go through is encountering a sexual assault as a child. This heinous crime is far too common and often occurs at home.
Childhood sexual abuse is a type of child abuse in which an adult or older child sexually assaults or exploits a child. Sexual abuse can involve a wide range of behaviors, including fondling, genital contact, oral sex, anal sex, and exposure of a child to pornography.
Unfortunately, the emotional suffering of childhood sexual abuse continues long after it has stopped, and it may have a negative effect on mental well-being, brain health, and cognitive function.
Childhood sexual trauma can have profound and lasting effects on a person’s mental health. The effects of childhood sexual trauma can be varied and complex and can persist for years or even decades after trauma occurs. The experience of sexual trauma at a young age can cause a range of psychological, emotional, and physical symptoms that persist into adulthood.
The following are some of the most prevalent mental health consequences of childhood sexual trauma:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): Childhood sexual trauma can cause symptoms of PTSD such as flashbacks, nightmares, and avoidance of reminders of the trauma.
- Depression: Childhood sexual trauma increases the risk of developing depression. Depression can cause feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a loss of interest in activities.
- Anxiety: Anxiety disorders such as Social Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, and Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) are more likely to develop in those who experienced sexual abuse as children.
- Substance abuse: Childhood sexual trauma can increase the risk of developing substance abuse disorders such as alcoholism or drug addiction.
- Borderline personality disorder: Childhood sexual trauma can increase the risk of developing a borderline personality disorder, a condition characterized by an unstable mood, impulsive behavior, and unstable relationships.
- Dissociation: Childhood sexual trauma can cause a person to dissociate, a coping mechanism in which the mind separates from the body and reality, leading to feelings of detachment and disconnection.
- Sexual dysfunction: Childhood sexual trauma can cause sexual dysfunction, including decreased interest in sex, difficulty in becoming aroused, and pain during sex.
People who have experienced childhood sexual trauma may also have difficulties with self-esteem, self-worth, and body image. They may also experience intense emotions such as fear, shame, guilt, and anger, and may have difficulty trusting others.
Childhood sexual trauma has complex effects on mental health
It is important to note that the impact of childhood sexual trauma on mental health is complex and varies from person to person. Some individuals may experience more severe symptoms than others, and the timing, duration, and nature of trauma can all play a role in the development of mental health problems.
If you have experienced childhood sexual trauma, it is important to know that there is help available. The effects of childhood sexual trauma can be long-lasting and pervasive, but with proper support and treatment, it is possible to heal and move forward.
The following are some steps you can take to address childhood sexual trauma:
- Seek professional help: The first step in addressing childhood sexual trauma is seeking professional help. A mental health professional, such as a therapist or counselor, can help you process your emotions, develop coping strategies, and work through lingering trauma. They can also help identify any other mental health issues that may have arisen as a result of trauma.
- Connect with a support group: Connecting with others who have had similar experiences can be beneficial for many people who have suffered from sexual abuse as children. Support groups may offer a secure setting for people to express their emotions, develop coping mechanisms, and connect with others who have faced similar things.
- Practice self-care: It is important to take care of oneself physically, emotionally, and mentally. This might include doing exercise regularly, maintaining a nutritious diet, obtaining enough sleep, and taking part in enjoyable and relaxing activities.
- Consider medication: In some cases, medication may be helpful in treating symptoms of childhood sexual trauma. Talk to your mental health provider about whether medication might be an appropriate part of your treatment plan.
Be patient and kind to yourself
Healing from childhood sexual trauma can be a long and difficult process. It is important to be patient and kind to yourself, as you work through your feelings and experiences. Remember that healing is possible and that you are not alone in your journey.
Read another article on narcissistic abuse at https://journals-times.com/2023/03/16/how-to-deal-with-narcissistic-abuse-steps-to-rebuild-your-life/
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
APOORVA CHOUDHARY is an RCI registered clinical psychologist with expertise working with children, teenagers, and adults to provide them with a safe environment to work through life’s issues and encourages them to take a more holistic approach to their well-being, careers, and interpersonal relationships. She is eager to gain knowledge and make a positive impact on the lives of others. She has a great interest in research, particularly in criminal psychology, sexual abuse and behavior, and clinical psychology.