For some people the effects of sexual abuse are very clear; for others, they are more subtle. Some survivors may not connect any problems affecting them with the abuse for many years. Sexual abuse either causes problems or reinforces existing ones. Sexual abuse may cause someone to feel dirty and ashamed and as though they were “damaged goods.” Many survivors believe that others can see what happened to them. This means that survivors’ self-esteem is impacted. If a survivor feels guilty or responsible for the abuse, this will lower self-esteem even more. A survivor may feel different from or not as good as other people.
Many survivors of sexual abuse say that they feel numb most of the time. Some say that life is like a movie they are watching instead of living. Some survivors find that the only way they feel good or alive is to put themselves into risky situations or doing something dangerous. This can lead to risk taking behavior.
Another common effect of sexual abuse is dissociation. This is the process of separating painful or unpleasant feelings from your awareness. If a person experiences trauma frequently they may learn to dissociate easily. The longer a person has experienced abuse the more used they got to it and the better they got at it.
If you are experiencing any of the effects or symptoms in your life, please reach out for help. RCASA has a 24 hour hotline and counseling services available.
~This information was taken from the book The Me Nobody Knows: A Guide for Teen Survivors By: Barbara Bean and Shari Bennett.