A Little Information on Child Sexual Abuse. (approx. 4 – 5 min. read)

Surviving with a mental illness is one of the hardest things a person will do, especially when they’ve grown up with sexual abuse. Being abused - in any way changes a person’s view of people, as well as changing the way they look at the world we live in.

A person that has grown up being abused has very little confidence in themselves and their ability to function in the outside world because they have been made to believe they are unworthy.

The figures related to childhood abuse are absolutely astonishing and of epidemic, if not pandemic, proportions.” In fact, the chances of a child being sexually abused or raped is one in five and I believe it was the same when I was young, except it was talked about even less than it is now.

Childhood sexual abuse (CSA) is a worldwide problem, but unfortunately, it’s a topic that most people don’t want to discuss, especially amongst members of a CSA survivor’s family. In fact, families will do almost anything to stop the truth from coming out; sometimes going as far as disowning the victim. This makes it very hard for a person who has been abused to find the attention and help that they need to survive and thrive.

CSA can happen to anyone and for the most part (about sixty percent of the time), it’s a family member, or a close friend of the family that is the perpetrator of such an immoral deed. Thirty percent of the time, it’s a caregiver (teacher, babysitter, minister, or coach), and about seven percent are considered “stranger danger.”

Although most of the studies on long term consequences of CSA focus on women, it doesn’t seem to matter whether you’re female or male. In fact, the statistics for CSA is one in four for girls and one in six for boys.

What’s shameful is that even though these statistics are so high, there is very little help for CSA survivors (I tried to find statistics, but it was difficult. I will update this as soon as I can find accurate numbers). Female CSA survivors have it a little easier than their male counterpart because they can confide in a girlfriend, or girlfriends, but male survivors tend to keep their abuse to themselves; hoping that somehow, they can fix themselves.

There are a lot of indicators that a child is being abused and the National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse (NAASCA) compiled a list I thought I would share:

Indicators of sexual abuse in young children include: 

» Sleep disturbances

» Bed wetting and/or loss of fecal control

» Regressive behavior

» Self-destructive or risk-taking behavior

» Impulsivity, distractibility, difficulty concentrating

» Refusal to be left alone

» Fear of an individual, such as an alleged offender

» Fear of people of a specific type or gender

» Fire setting

» Cruelty to animals

» Problems relating to peers

» Sudden changes in behavior

» Difficulties in school

» Inappropriate interest (for the age) in things sexual

Indicators of sexual abuse in older children include: 

» Eating disturbances (overeating, bulimia and anorexia) 

» Running away

» Substance abuse

» Self-destructive behavior, suicide attempts, self-mutilation

» Incorrigibility

» Criminal activity

» Depression and social withdrawal

» Problems relating to peers

» Sudden changes in behavior

» Anger issues

» Difficulties in school

I found NAASCA one day when I was doing research and they have a lot of knowledgeable information on CSA, as well as an extensive list of help (http://www.naasca.org/Groups-Services/_Groups-Services.htm) that is being offered in English speaking countries throughout the world. They are dedicated to addressing the issues related to trauma and child abuse, which includes things like sexual assault, physical or violent abuse, neglect and emotional traumas. They do this from two different perspectives:

“1) educating the public, especially as related to getting society over the taboo of discussing childhood sexual abuse, presenting the facts that show child abuse to be a pandemic, worldwide problem that affects everyone

2) offering hope for healing through numerous paths, providing many services to adult survivors of child abuse and information for anyone interested in the many issues involving prevention, intervention and recovery.”

When I found the NAASCA I cried happy tears because they made me feel less alone in dealing with the abuse I suffered as a child. I know (now) that I’m not alone and with people like the NAASCA, I believe we’ll be able to educate the ignorant and end the stigma around CSA.

Learn the signs. Watch for things like unexplained injuries, changes in sleep habits; such as nightmares, inappropriate sexual behaviour, or changes in school attendance or performance. If you suspect CSA, don’t speak with the child in question. Immediately contact your family physician and they will put you in touch with a professional that knows how to get the truth out of that child, as well as make sure that they are safe.

Stay safe and stay strong. Thanks for following.