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Childhood Sexual Abuse

Samantha McLaughlin

Psychotherapist and Counsellor

There is a high incidence of childhood sexual abuse in our society, approximately 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 9 boys have been sexually abused as children. In recent years there has been a far greater acknowledgement of both the prevalence and the profound impact of childhood sexual abuse. For the adult survivor of childhood abuse the long term effects often permeate through your sense of self, your intimate relationships, your sexuality, your parenting, your work life and your emotional well being. The effects of childhood sexual abuse can be very diverse however as an adult you may experience some of the following:

  • Depression
  • Low self esteem
  • Sleep disruptions
  • Heightened anxiety and fear
  • Difficulty controlling or expressing emotions
  • Negative feelings about your body
  • Difficulty with intimacy and sexuality
  • Difficulty defining personal boundaries
  • Difficulty establishing and maintaining nurturing relationships

In general the adult abuser is either a family member or at least well known to the child and this betrayal of the child's trust has an adverse effect upon their feelings of optimism and trust in the world. Along with this overwhelming sense of betrayal the sexually abused child often experiences intense feelings of fear, confusion, helplessness, worthlessness and shame. Unfortunately the child who is being sexually abused is usually unable to express these overwhelming feelings to anyone as the abuser has forced them to keep the abuse secret or they may be ashamed to tell. As an adult you may still be trying to cope with the overwhelming feelings on your own.

As an adult you might be using some of the following methods:

  • Numbing yourself with alcohol or drugs
  • Comforting yourself with food
  • Keeping yourself constantly busy (overworking)
  • Escaping into books, television, computer games
  • Excessive sleeping
  • Self-destructive behaviour
  • 'acting out' sexually

It requires a huge amount of energy to suppress the often overwhelming memories and emotions that are the legacy of childhood sexual abuse. It is possible to recover from the effects of childhood sexual abuse but it can be difficult on your own and you may benefit from the support of a trained counsellor.

If you would like further information
please contact Samantha McLaughlin
0431763567
Email:

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