sexual abuse victim dealing with mental health issues

Mental Health Effects in Child Sexual Abuse Victims

Sexual abuse victims suffer long-term consequences, and the effects are especially pronounced in children. Victims are likely to have severe problems as a result of their abuse when compared to non-victims. If you or someone you know is a child victim of sexual abuse, seeking professional mental health counseling and treatment is essential. And an experienced attorney can help you win the compensation you deserve to cover these and related expenses.

According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), child sexual abuse victims are more likely than non-victims to experience the following mental health challenges:

  • About 4 times more likely to develop symptoms of drug abuse
  • About 4 times more likely to experience PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) as adults
  • About 3 times more likely to experience a major depressive episode as adults

Sexual Abuse and Its Impact on Mental Health

Other mental health effects of child sexual abuse include the following:

  • Suicidal thoughts and attempts. Although this is especially prevalent among adolescents, there are also disturbing trends showing that even children consider or attempt suicide.
  • Engaging in self-harm. One frequent type of self-harm is cutting, but other types of deliberate self-inflicted injury are common.
  • Anxiety and panic attacks. These can cause a number of behavioral problems, such as inability to sleep or changes in mood.
  • Changes in hygiene. These could include extreme variations of bathing, such as doing so too often or too infrequently.
  • Developing phobias. Children may develop persistent, excessive, and unrealistic fears of an object or situation, known as phobias.
  • Regressive behaviors. Some children regress to behaviors that are not appropriate for their ages, such as thumb-sucking or bed-wetting.
  • Nightmares. Any child abuse victim, but especially one who has suffered sexual violence or harm, is highly susceptible to nightmares.
  • Overly protective behaviors. It’s not uncommon for children to become overly protective of siblings or assume a caretaker role that is unusual, given their age.

Mental health problems will manifest themselves in different ways from one child to another. That makes it difficult to definitively say whether a child is experiencing any issues without the opinion of a knowledgeable professional. If your child is exhibiting any of the above signs, or others that are unusual, it is critical that you seek help for them right away.

If you are a parent you should seek immediate assistance if your child is threatening or has attempted suicide, or is expressing suicidal or self-harming thoughts. Mental health issues that are ignored or not taken seriously can suddenly take a dramatic and tragic turn, so don’t hesitate to speak with your child and seek professional help.

Therapy is one potential remedy for dealing with mental health problems stemming from child sexual abuse. Other treatments may involve prescription medications, especially to handle depression and anxiety issues. Professional mental health treatments could last well beyond childhood and into the victim’s adult life. These treatments come at a cost, and can easily become significant expenses.

That’s where having an experienced child sexual abuse attorney can help. A skilled and aggressive attorney can fight for the victim by demanding compensation to cover necessary mental health treatments. Paul Mones has dedicated his legal practice to standing up for child sexual abuse victims, and we’re ready to work towards getting your child the help he or she deserves. Call us today to find out more.