PTSD From Sexual Abuse




Sexual Abuse: The Facts

Sexual abuse affects people from all walks of life, but the most common demographics are women, children, and teenagers. Sexual abuse can cause Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in anyone who is a victim of it, but children and women are more susceptible to it. For children who develop PTSD, 10% are the result of sexual abuse. Women who have been raped, studies have shown that about 94% experience symptoms of PTSD. And chances are, those who experience PTSD resort to emotional and behavioral outlets that cause further harm, such as all sorts of addiction, such as alcohol, drugs, food, and would thus need more help dealing with the addiction aside from PTSD.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in women who have been sexually abused causes a multitude of symptoms, most of which are related to the event of being abused. Here are the most common symptoms of PTSD from sexual abuse:

  • depression
  •  fear
  •  reliving the event repeatedly (sometimes uncontrollably)
  •  nightmares
  •  avoiding thinking or talking about the event
  •  restlessness
  •  trouble sleeping or relaxing
  •  irritability

Sexual abuse in children have effects that can last much longer, as it can damage a child’s future quality of life. Since the abuse is occurring at such an impressionable stage of life, sexual abuse can leave a child feeling guilty, disgusted, or an all around sadness for the rest of their life if gone untreated. Here are some of the typical symptoms present in children who are diagnosed with PTSD from sexual trauma:

  •  nightmares
  •  nervous or anxious behavior
  •  abusive behavior (showing abusive tendencies in play)
  •  sexual behaviors
  •  acting cruel towards others
  •  sexual disorders (long term)
  •  body image issues (long term)
  •  low self esteem (long term)
  •  substance abuse (long term)
  •  problems within relationships
  •  guilt


Sexual Abuse: The Perpetrators



Sexual abuse in children is typically done by individuals that are known by the victim. It is extremely rare for a child to be sexually abused by a stranger. In fact, studies show that just 10% of cases involve a stranger. As for the rest of the time, 60% are some kind of family friend, neighbor, or other known person. Family members are offenders just 30% of the time.

Men are usually the perpetrators of sexual abuse in both children and women. While children are often convinced or manipulated by an adult, women are often sexually abused when consent has not been given. Here are some of the typical situations where women are sexually abused:

  •  inhibited judgment from alcohol or drugs causing the inability to give consent
  •  advantage being taken of by an individual that has some type of authority, causing the woman to be afraid to decline
  •  force being used to enact in sexual acts
  •  being threatened by the perpetrator


Children with PTSD: Treatment and How to Help



Support and love is the most important thing to provide to a child who has been sexually abused. Of course, the next step is to immediately find a counselor, therapist, or other psychiatric professional that the child can speak to about their experience. If the child is showing signs of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, be sure to take them to a mental health professional to prevent future and long term issues.

It is up to the family whether or not they would like to take legal action against the perpetrator. The family may want to consider getting therapy themselves, as it can really aid in helping the child process and recover from the abuse. Family is the child’s most important support system. Here are some tips as to what to do if your child or a child in your family tells you that they’ve been sexually abused:

  •  remind them that it isn’t their fault, as guilt is one of the most common and detrimental symptoms
  •  make sure that they know that you won’t allow for them to be hurt again, and they are now in a safe place
  •  carefully consider what to say before you speak to the child, as the conversation is extremely important and fragile for the child