Home Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy Impact of Sexual Abuse on Mental Health and How to Deal with It

Impact of Sexual Abuse on Mental Health and How to Deal with It

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Sexual abuse can profoundly impact a person’s mental health, affecting them emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. These effects can worsen later in life if the trauma of such a violation is experienced in childhood or adolescence. To effectively address the issue, survivors and their families must establish appropriate coping methods. This article will examine the effects of sexual abuse on mental health as well as practical management techniques.

How to bring the abuser to justice

Sexual assault victims frequently feel powerless when seeking justice from their abuser. If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse, there are procedures available to report the crime and hold the abuser accountable for their actions.

It can be challenging to know where to begin, particularly if the abuser is a high-profile person or a member of a certain religion. In this case, hiring a clergy sexual abuse lawyer can be beneficial. A competent attorney will offer legal counsel and help file a lawsuit to seek justice against your abuser. They will investigate the situation, speak with potential witnesses, and acquire proof to support your accusations.

Effects of sexual abuse on mental health

Posttraumatic stress disorder

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that can develop after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event, such as sexual abuse. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, emotional numbness, and intense anxiety. PTSD can be treated with therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes.

Support groups can provide a secure place to process your experiences while also assisting you in developing effective coping strategies for handling trauma-related symptoms. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) also effectively manages the negative thought patterns associated with PTSD. 

Depression

Depression is among the most common mental health issues associated with sexual abuse. The guilt and self-blame survivors experience can contribute to low self-esteem and a feeling of worthlessness. They could also feel hopeless about the future and be overwhelmed by disturbing flashbacks or nightmares related to their experience. 

Medication, support groups, and individual therapy are all possible forms of treatment for depression. Participating in activities that foster a healthy sense of self-worth, including art therapy and writing, may also be beneficial.

Attachment issues

After experiencing sexual assault, survivors may find it difficult to establish and sustain meaningful relationships. They might also have trouble trusting others or feel overpowered in intimate situations. Treatment for attachment issues typically involves a combination of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy, and dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT).

A supportive and understanding environment can be an invaluable resource for survivors.   Connecting with others who have experienced the same thing, whether through family, friends, or support groups, can help you deal with the particular difficulties of sexual abuse.

Personality disruptions

An individual’s personality changes can also be a result of sexual abuse. This might involve actions like risk-taking, impulsivity, and violence. It’s crucial to keep in mind that these changes are temporary and can, if necessary, be handled with specialized therapy and drugs.

Final thoughts

Therapy helps you learn appropriate coping mechanisms and addresses the underlying problems that lead to personality disturbances. Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) is a type of cognitive behavioural therapy that can be particularly useful for working through any underlying emotional issues.

Sexual abuse is a traumatic event that can affect a person’s mental health in the long run. Survivors can learn to manage their pain and lead more fulfilled lives with the proper care and support. If you or someone you know has experienced sexual abuse, please don’t hesitate to seek help from a therapist or other mental health professionals.


Tim Williamson, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.

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