Sexual abuse article

The Impact of Sexual Abuse

There are many ways in which experiencing sexual abuse might impact on someone.  Because everyone is different, and everyone experiences events differently, there is no right or wrong way to react to what has happened to them.  Some of the ways that a person could feel after suffering sexual abuse are:

1. Feeling upset, tearful or depressed.
2.  Feeling scared, anxious or fearful.
3. Feeling guilty, or to blame for what happened.
4. Remembering what happened vividly, and being able to hear or see things that happened and them feel as though they are happening now (known as flashbacks).
5. Feeling cut off from your emotions, or numb to them.
6. Feeling that no one else understands.
7.  Having physical symptoms, such as a racing heart, stomach aches or feeling sick.

People often only experience a few of these things, and they can range in severity.  They can also come and go over time, sometimes linked with things that are happening in the here and now, with certain things triggering them.

In the longer term, sexual abuse can have other impacts.  Certain disorders which may need treatment can occur, such as:

1. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – Experiencing flashbacks on a longer term basis, and not feeling able to relax.
2. Dissociative disorders – Forcing your mind to forget things, often leading to not being able to remember what you have done over a course of several minutes/hours/days/weeks.
3.  Substance abuse – Taking drugs, unprescribed medication or using alcohol to numb things or forget.
4. Trichotillomania – Pulling out your hair to feel relief.
5. Dermatillomania – Picking your skin to feel relief.
6. Eating disorders – Not eating enough, eating and then forcing yourself to be sick, or overeating in order to feel better.
7. Self harm – Hurting yourself through cutting or burning your skin to feel relief.
8. Sleep disorders – Sleeping for long periods of time or not being able to sleep enough.

All of these things can resolve in time, either on their own or with treatment/help.

It is important to remember that if you are experiencing these symptoms that it doesn’t mean you are going “mad” or there is something wrong with you.  They are all normal reactions to the abnormal situation that you were forced to be in.  There is help available, and you do not need to feel like this forever.