Repressed Anger

Victims of child sexual abuse may appear passive and compliant. They may look like "good kids" and not show some of the behavioral problems outlined in Lack of Self-Control. However, children who have been sexually abused have a reservoir of anger, hostility, and sometimes hatred, welled up inside them.
Child sexual abuse victims are angry at:
  • Perpetrators: for every act of abuse, for the violation, for the pain, for the betrayal, for the threats, for the secret
  • Non-protective parent, usually the mother: for not protecting them, for not keeping them safe
  • Themselves: for the abuse occurring and being unable to stop it

They may also be angry at:

  • Themselves: for deserving to have this happen to them
  • Themselves: for being out of control
  • Themselves: if they have disclosed, for the disruption to the family
  • Professionals: for asking questions 
  • Law enforcement and Child Protective Services: for interfering with normal family life (separation, foster care, or visitation arrangements)
  • Siblings: for keeping the secret and older siblings for not protecting them
  • Extended family members: for their responses following disclosure
This anger is often repressed and turns into depression and withdrawal from normal activities. Child victims may later act out in a variety of behaviors against both others (abusive language, fighting) and themselves (self-harm and self-destructive choices). 

This anger does not usually reduce over time unless the victim engages in counseling and processes through the sexual abuse events and the anger, assigns responsibility and lets go of self-blame. This is a significant process and may be life-long, depending upon the extent of abuse and identity of perpetrator. 


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