Short Term Effects

Child sexual abuse affects a child's development and results in emotional, behavioral, physical, social, and spiritual consequences. Not all abused children suffer extreme and detrimental consequences. The severity of consequences, both short and long term, is dependent on many factors. These include:

  • Age of the child at the time of the abuse
  • How often the abuse occurred and over what period of time
  • Severity of abuse, including the degree of violence
  • Relationship between the victim and abuser 

The immediate effects of child abuse are associated to the stress of the abusive act and the fear and anxiety it provokes. The child fears that the abuse will happen again. He feels guilt, shame, and confusion. If the abuser lives in the home, the fear and anxiety  becomes daily and chronic. The child may develop coping strategies that override the fear and these may help the child survive; however, they may initiate coping patterns that over time become destructive in the life of the child. Immediate effects of sexual abuse can be placed in the following categories:

Male victims differ in their responses to sexual abuse.

The effects of sexual abuse also depend on the response of the the supportive parent and whether the child is protected from future abuse. If a child experiences sexual abuse one time, tells his or her mother, and is supported and protected, the likelihood of both short and long term consequences is greatly reduced.  


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