Child Abuse: An Overview

Effects of Child Abuse on Children: Sexual Abuse

The strongest indicators that a child has been sexually abused are inappropriate knowledge about sex, inappropriate sexual interest, and sexual acting out.7 The effects of abuse result from the abuse itself, from the family’s response to the situation, and from the stigmatization that accompanies abuse. The symptoms can include post-traumatic symptoms, precocious sexualization, depression, anxiety, guilt, fear, sexual dysfunction, dissociative symptoms, eating disorders, substance abuse, prostitution, regressive behaviors such as a return to thumb-sucking or bed-wetting, runaway behavior, and academic and behavior problems.7,15

Factors that influence the outcomes in cases of childhood sexual abuse include the age of the victim, the frequency and extent of the abuse, the relationship of the victim to the abuser (incest has the worst outcomes), the use of force, the presence of severe injury, and the number of different perpetrators.15 The response of the victim’s family has a tremendous effect on the outcome. Supportive responses from the victims family and friends can go far to lessen the impact of the abuse while negative responses (seen commonly in cases of incest where one parent tries to protect the other parent) will compound the damage done.

Child Abuse Introduction   |   Signs of Child Abuse
Child Abuse Statistics   |   It’s Under Reported
Effects of Child Abuse on Children: Abuse General
Effects of Child Abuse on Children: Child Sexual Abuse
Injuries to Children: Physical and Sexual Abuse
Effects of Child Abuse on Adults: Childhood Abuse
Effects of Child Abuse on Adults: Childhood Sexual Abuse
Definition of Physical Abuse   |   Signs of Physical Abuse
Definition of Sexual Abuse   |   Signs of Sexual Abuse
Definition of Child Neglect   |   Signs of Child Neglect
Definition of Emotional Abuse   |   Signs of Emotional Abuse
Abusers   |   Pedophiles
Child Physical Abuse and Corporal Punishment
Treatment for Child Abuse
Costs to Society
State Child Abuse Laws
Nationwide Crisis Line and Hotline Directory

Referring to this article:
“Child Abuse: An Overview” was written by C. J. Newton, MA, Learning Specialist and published in the Find (formerly Mental Health Journal in April, 2001.

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