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Child Sexual Abuse

Child sexual abuse is a serious issue.  In this page we will discover the challenges and benefits of rehabilitation and treatment for child sexual abuse.  If you or someone you know has been the victim of child sexual abuse, we urge you to seek out rehab centers in your area to find a rehabilitation center that can provide safe treatment for child sexual abuse in your area.

Child sexual abuse is a type of child abuse in which an adult or adolescent abuses a child for any type of sexual stimulation. Child sexual abuse can involve many different types of child abuse. Children abused through coercion, through participating in pornography, and through indecent exposure are different forms of child sexual abuse. Verbal forms of sexual abuse and abuse or coercion without physical contact is also considered to be sexual abuse.

Both men and women have been shown to sexually abuse children, and many abusers know the child they are abusing. The abuser is often a friend or family member of the child. Child sexual abuse can result in serious effects on the child including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety disorder, injury to the child, and other effects. Effects can be minimized if child abuse is recognized and treated when the victim is still a child. Sexual abuse by a family member is called incest and it may lead to further emotional problems for the child.

With a high incidence in many countries, child sexual abuse is a serious problem that is combated through many methods. Education on child sexual abuse is important so that others can spot the signs of child abuse or sexual abuse and get help as quickly as possible. Treatment for child sexual abuse involves various forms of psychotherapy to treat the emotional trauma of child abuse along with any disorders and PTSD that may develop from child abuse or sexual abuse.

Symptoms and Signs of Child Sexual Abuse

There are various symptoms and signs that are displayed by children who have been sexually abused depending on the age of the child. Signs of sexual abuse in a child up to the age of three include: vomiting, fear, anxiety, crying, bowel problems, unexplained rashes, feeding difficulties, and trouble sleeping. Children from the age of two to nine may demonstrate: fear and anxiety associated with certain people or places, trouble eating, difficulties at school, bed wetting, stranger anxiety, fear of a future assault, withdrawal from friends or family, feelings of shame, trouble sleeping, and other symptoms.

Older children who are victims of child abuse or child sexual abuse may show: depression, anger, sleep difficulties, suicidal tendencies, trouble at school, promiscuity, pregnancy, substance abuse, eating difficulties, a desire to run away from home, irritability or aggression, anxiety or fear, and mature behaviors. Child sexual abuse can be diagnosed by physicians or other experts with physical or psychological evidence of child abuse or sexual abuse. Child sexual abuse can be recognized through the testimonial of an abused child or another person who knows of the abuse.

The incidence of child sexual abuse is high in many countries. For instance, it is estimated that up to 25 percent of women and 15 percent of men were abused at some point in their childhood in North America. In up to 30 percent of the cases, the abusers were relatives of the children and up to 60 percent were friends or acquaintances of the family. Although most child sexual abusers are men, up to 40 percent of male child victims may be abused by women.

Effects of Child Sexual Abuse

The effects and consequences of child abuse and child sexual abuse are severe. The severity of effects depend on the individual, the nature of the child abuse, the length of time that it occurred, and the period in the child’s life in which the child abuse occurred. Victims must deal with psychological, social, sexual, and physical problems that result from being abused. Psychological problems may include panic attacks, nightmares, depression, substance abuse problems later in life, PTSD, self-destructive behaviors, anxiety, anger, and other disorders and problems.

Adult victims of child sexual abuse often hide their abuse due to embarrassment or fear of stigmatization. Social problems that victims experience include trouble with meeting people, difficulty trusting others, fear of intimacy, fear of relationships, and fear of a loss of control in intimate relationships. Those who have partners with a history of child sexual abuse may find these problems later on in their relationship and not understand why their partners are acting in such a way due to the partner hiding the fact that he or she had been previously sexually abused.

Child sexual abuse victims may have physical problems such as pain, gastrointestinal problems, stomach aches, nausea, painful limbs or shoulders, chronic pain, headaches, and other forms of unexplained pain. Later on in life, child victims of sexual abuse may experience various forms of sexual difficulties such as impotence, flashbacks to past experiences of sexual abuse that result in sexual difficulties, anxiety related to physical contact during sex, and a loss of sexual desire.

Treatment for Child Sexual Abuse

Treatment for child sexual abuse will vary depending on the age of the child. For children and adolescents, treatment involves helping the child cope with the memories of the assault and also preventing future psychological problems. Treatment is extensive and typically occurs over a period of several months to help ensure that any long term psychological damage is minimized. Criminal investigations and intervention from child protective services may result in treatment plans being developed for a child as well as protective custody being set up for a child who is suspected of being abused by family members.

Family therapy, individual therapy, and group therapy are three primary forms of treatment for child sexual abuse victims. Each form of treatment is used when appropriate, and the type of treatment used depends on the case and the individual child. The treatment of young children, for instance, often does not involve much group therapy but more family therapy and individual therapy. Older children may benefit from the addition of group therapy. Adult victims of child sexual abuse also require treatment and may have developed problems such as eating disorders, anxiety disorder, depression, and other types of personality disorders that must also be treated along with the trauma from their past experiences.

There are treatment centers for victims of sexual abuse that offer the ability for victims to be treated in a safe and protected environment. Both adults and children can be treated at psychological treatment centers, and a unique treatment plan is developed for each case of child sexual abuse. Outpatient treatment programs can treat patients on a regular basis without requiring an inpatient stay, or inpatient programs may be used in cases where it is appropriate. Treatment of child sexual abuse at psychological treatment centers may involve psychotherapy and psychiatric medications to treat disorders that may have developed in the abused individual.

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