Child Sexual Abuse

Child sexual abuse has been reported up to 80,000 times a year, but the number of unreported instances is far greater, because the children are afraid to tell anyone what has happened and the legal procedure for validating an episode is difficult. The problem should be identified, the abuse stopped, and the child should receive professional help. The long-term emotional and psychological damage can be devastating.
No child is psychologically prepared to cope with repeated sexual stimulation. Even a two- or three-year-old, who cannot know the sexual activity is “wrong,” will develop problems resulting from the inability to cope with the over stimulation.
The child of five or older, who knows and cares for the abuser, becomes trapped between affection or loyalty for the person and the sense that the sexual activities are terribly wrong. A child who is the victim of prolonged sexual abuse usually develops low self-esteem, a feeling of worthlessness and an abnormal perspective on sexuality. The child may become withdrawn and mistrustful of adults, and can become suicidal.
Some children who have been sexually abused have difficulty relating to others except on sexual terms.
Source: Facts for Families No. 9 (11/98) American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. [Website]

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