What are the signs of child sexual abuse in adults?
The signs of child sexual abuse can take many forms. Many adult survivors may experience the following:
- Experiencing panic attacks, numb body areas, feeling disconnected from their bodies (these are usually signs of trauma)
- Difficult to experience orgasms or erections.
- Experiencing persistent physical pain (stomack, neck or back and andrological/ gynecological problems, for example) despite good self-care.
- Water splashing in the face feels unberable
- very low physical boundaries
- Numb body parts, unaware of body or bodily felt sensations,
- unable to trust their own body
- a deep sense of shame leading to a feeling of being wrong
- an intuition that something wrong has happened without the recollection of any experience
- A fear that they might abuse children the way they were abused
- low self-esteem, feeling unworthy and dirty
- Sadness, fear and anger that feel overwhelming and difficult to control
- A strong desire to live in isolation, feeling lonely
- Panics, rages, depressions
- Low emotional and spiritual boundaries
- Arousal when reading about child being abused
Thoughts/ Memory/ Intellect
- suicidal thoughts
- memories of unmet childhood needs might surface when caring for children causing depression and sadness
- Childhood blackouts where large chunks of time are forgotten.
- Unable to recall periods of their childhood
- Repeatedly spotting double meaning in conversations
- Re-experiencing emotions of the abuse when faced with specific smell, taste, image, noise, touch.
- a lack of emotional and practical skills for dealing with their present “grown-up” world
- Compensating for shame or inadequacy by becoming “over-achievers.”
- Avoiding promiscuity, sex or specific sexual positions
- struggling to develop or maintain close relationships.
- sleep disorders, or self-harm
- Alcohol and drug dependency or any other addiction, eating disorders and obesity
- Personal hygiene is either too challenging or is carried out excessively
- Wearing inappropriate clothing
- Scalding, cutting and picking skin
Whilst the symptoms listed in this article are usually common among adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse, they are not a tool or test to help you diagnose yourself. This list is not designed to tell you for sure whether or not you were abused as a child. These are usually behaviours which prompt people to seek therapy. Please do not treat this list as tick box exercise and tell yourself “if I have ticked all the boxes I must have been abused in childhood”. This would be a premature conclusion and might not be as helpful as initially thought.
If you think that you might have been sexually abused as a child and wish to discuss this please contact me in confidence.