In The Wildflowers Retreat

                                Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse

 

If you’re an adult who experienced sexual abuse as a child, know that you are not alone. One in 5 girls is a victim of sexual abuse. In the U.S., 44% of sexual assault victims are under the age of 18, and 93% know the perpetrator. Many perpetrators of sexual abuse are in a position of trust or responsible for the child’s care, such as a family member, teacher, clergy member, or coach.

 

No matter what, the abuse was not your fault. It’s never too late to start healing from this experience.

 

What are the effects of child sexual abuse for adults?
If you experienced sexual abuse as a child, you may encounter a range of short- and long-term effects that many survivors face. Adult survivors of child sexual abuse may have some of the following concerns that are specific to their experience:

  • Guilt, shame, and blame. You might feel guilty about not having been able to stop the abuse, or even blame yourself if you experienced physical pleasure. It is important for you to understand that it was the person that hurt you that should be held accountable—not you.
  • Self-esteem. You may struggle with low self-esteem, which can be a result of the negative messages you received from your abuser(s), and from having your personal safety violated or ignored. Low self-esteem can affect many different areas of your life such as your relationships, your career, and even your health.
  • Intimacy and relationships. It’s possible that your first experiences with sex came as a result of sexual abuse. As an adult, intimacy might be a struggle at times. Some survivors experience flashbacks or painful memories while engaging in sexual activity, even though it is consensual and on their own terms. Survivors may also struggle to set boundaries that help them feel safe in relationships.
 
 

What Problems are Caused by Sexual Abuse?

Major Sexual Symptoms of Sexual Abuse

  1. Difficulty with becoming aroused and feeling sensations
  2. Sex feels like an obligation
  3. Sexual thoughts and images that are disturbing
  4. Inappropriate sexual behaviors or sexual compulsivity
  5. Vaginal pain
  6. Inability to achieve orgasm or other orgasmic difficultie
  7. Feeling dissociated while having sex
  8. Detachment or emotional distance while having sex
  9. Being afraid of sex or avoiding sex
  10. Guilt, fear, anger, disgust or other negative feelings when being touched
  11.  

Major Long-Term Medical Symptoms of Sexual Abuse

  1. Insomnia
  2. Vaginal or Pelvic Pain
  3. Eating Disorders
  4. Headaches
  5. TMJ syndrome
  6. Low back pain, chest pressure
  7. Erection problems or ejaculatory difficulty
  8. Asthma
  9. Dizziness/fainting
  10. Self harming/self-mutilation
  11. Chronic physical complaints

 

Major Long-Term Psychological Symptoms of Sexual Abuse

  1. Anxiety
  2. Panic Attacks
  3. Low self-esteem
  4. Stress disorders - PTSD
  5. Personality disorders
  6. Substance abuse
  7. Self-abuse behaviors
 

 

Why do I still feel this way?
As an adult survivor, you have been living with these memories for a long time. Some survivors keep the abuse a secret for many years. They may have tried to tell an adult and met with resistance or felt there was no one they could trust. For these reasons and many others, the effects of sexual abuse can occur many years after the abuse has ended. Remember that there is no set timeline for dealing with and recovering from this experience.