Ten Life Areas Most Impacted

The short-term effects and long-term consequences of child sexual abuse differ for each child victim and are dependent on:

If the abuse did not occur over a long period of time and if the child is believed and supported following disclosure, negative effects are minimized. The mother's support is the single best predictor of the child's recovery. Some children appear to recover without receiving professional help. The negative effects of sexual abuse are not necessarily inevitable. However, it is important for mothers to understand that, although the child may appear to have no problems related to the abuse, the child may be suffering internally. Often the trauma response results in repression of thoughts and feelings related to the abuse. Children often have somatic symptoms as a result of the dissociative process. They may suppress the thoughts, feelings, and memories until a point in time when life experience cues their release in adolescence or adulthood.

In most cases of child sexual abuse, victims feel damaged by their experiences. All children experience some of the same feelings and reactions, while some negative effects are more common if the perpetrator is a family member. Porter (1982) developed a framework to understand the impact of abuse and outlined ten areas. These are:

  1. Damaged Goods Syndrome 
  2. Guilt 
  3. Fear
  4. Depression 
  5. Low self-esteem 
  6. Lack of self-control
  7. Anger 
  8. Inability to trust
  9. Blurred boundaries 
  10. Pseudo-maturity 



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