Taking the chance on the topic currently in development in our blog by our Psychologist Dr. Ana Mesquita I realized I could go on talking about this other difficult topic wich is often ignored or taken apart since the pain and hardness of it...
I've been recently receiving some cases of children, teenagers and young adults as patients, who have been victims of this problem along their childhood and adolescence and that hard reality and it's devastating consequences on so many parts of these persons lifes has really impressed me and taken me to study and think of it in a more deeply way.
Reported incidents of child sexual abuse are markedly on the rise, 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.
Child sexual abuse can take place within the family, by a parent, step-parent, sibling or other relative; or outside the home, for example, by a friend, neighbor, child care person, teacher, or stranger. Incest affects individuals and families regardless of class, income, profession, religion or race. The statistics are truly alarming. It is currently estimated that one-third of all children are sexually abused before the age of 18. This includes 40% of all females and 30% of all males. The vast majority of these reports involve very young children, below age seven.
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 overstimulation.
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. If the child tries to break away from the sexual relationship, the abuser may threaten the child with violence or loss of love. When sexual abuse occurs within the family, the child may fear the anger, jealousy or shame of other family members, or be afraid the family will break up if the secret is told.
The problem should be identified, the abuse stopped, and the child should receive profesional help. The long-term emotional and psychological damage of sexual abuse can be devastating to the child.
Children who are neglected or sexually abused are known to have lower IQs and an increased risk of depression, suicide and drug problems. Abused children are 53% more likely to be arrested as juveniles, and 38% more likely to be arrested for a violent crime. During preschool years, abused children are more likely to get angry, refuse direction from teachers, and lack enthusiasm. By the time they reach grade school, they are more prone to being easily distracted, lacking in self-control, and not well-liked by peers.
A child who is the victim of prolonged sexual abuse usually develops low self-esteem, a feeling of worthlessness and an abnormal or distorted view of sex. 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. Some sexually abused children become child abusers or prostitutes, or have other serious problems when they reach adulthood.
Often there are no obvious external signs of child sexual abuse. Some signs can only be detected on physical exam by a physician.
I'll be developing this issue in the next weeks....