Emotional Effects

The emotional effects of finding out that your child has been sexually abused are similar in all mothers. However, immediate emotional reactions to child abuse are affected by:
  • Age of the child
  • Severity of abuse
  • Period of time over which the abuse occurred
  • Relationship with offender
  • How the mother found out

Ongoing emotional effects vary according to:

Common emotional effects of disclosure of a child's sexual abuse include pain, anger, fear, guilt, depression, a sense of powerlessness, and a sense of "going crazy." When experiencing such a range of intense emotions, it makes sense that mothers have trouble thinking clearly and making decisions. Mothers may also feel a heightened sense of anxiety and experience panic attacks. If the offender is still in the home, the mother is on hyper-alert at all times, trying to assure her child's safety. This level of anxiety and panic will eventually take its toll on the mother's health.

Mothers may also experience PTSD symptoms. These may include nightmares, intrusive memories, inability to regulate thoughts, anger, irritability, and startle response.      


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