Symptoms

Common symptoms often traced to the lingering effects of childhood sexual abuse include:

Emotional reactions
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Flashbacks and nightmares
  • Shame
  • Guilt and self-blame
  • Feelings of worthlessness and helplessness
  • Chronic or uncontrollable anger and rage
  • Withdrawal and isolation
Self-perception
  • Bound by shame and self-blame – "It was my fault"
  • Contaminated – "There's something wrong with me"
  • Despair and hopelessness
  • Lack of personal efficacy and sense of powerlessness
Physical effects
  • Gastrointestinal disturbances
  • Respiratory distress
  • Gynecological problems
  • Immunological disturbances
  • Chronic pain including migraine headaches
  • Muscular tension
  • Stress reactions
Sexual effects
  • Sexual acting out in adolescence and early adulthood
  • Questions of sexual orientation and preference
  • Difficulties with sexual arousal, response and satisfaction
  • Distancing or "numbing out" during sex
  • Sex addiction
Relationships with others
  • Pervasive mistrust of others
  • Experiencing intimacy as entrapping, threatening or not satisfying
  • Continuing conflicted relationships and roles with parents and siblings
  • Lack of trust of own parenting skills
  • High need for control in relationships

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