Publish 6 May 2021
Living in a Dark World
May is Mental Health Awareness Month.
It happens far more often than any of us would like. A moment of unrestrained passion can lead to child sexual molestation with long-term consequences. Even when a pregnancy does not result, emotional trauma affects future interpersonal relationships. 
On two ends of the spectrum, a victim can either become frigid and antisocial or hypersexual. Patrick Carnes, Ph.D. is an internationally acclaimed speaker and authority on sex addiction treatment. He reports that 81% of sex addicts were sexually abused as children. 
Some who triumph over childhood sexual abuse are able to mask their pain and function pretty well in society. Others are hindered by psychological, physical, and behavioral symptoms.
Victims may recoil when someone touches them or are unable to experience physical pleasure without dissociation. Flashbacks can occur at any time. Especially during sexual intimacy, vivid memories of the abuse can make such relationships difficult, if not impossible. 
Effects of Sexual Abuse
Depression, anxiety, and anger are popular emotional responses to childhood sexual abuse. Many ob-gyn practitioners unknowingly provide care to survivors of past abuse. Gynecologic problems of survivors include chronic pelvic pain, dyspareunia, vaginismus, nonspecific vaginitis, and gastrointestinal disorders. 
The law defines child sexual abuse as any sexual activity with a child where consent is not or cannot be given. Sexually abusive acts include sexual penetration, sexual touching, or non-contact sexual acts such as exposure or voyeurism. [1,4]
About 1 in 6 women and 1 in 50 men are sexually abused. Among the LGBTQ+ community, 47% of bisexual men and 46% of bisexual women report sexual abuse. 
Progress or recovery varies. But an individual typically requires years of professional therapy. The point is that many of your adult addictions, obsessions, and insecurities can stem from past sexual trauma. Without counseling, you may alienate current or future sexual partners.
Being able to voice frustrations in a safe space with a psychiatrist can lead to healing. Sometimes addressing the abuser in a private journal or in handwritten letter is therapeutic. Even if you do not receive an apology, it might help you to move beyond the dark past.
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- Adult Manifestations of Childhood Sexual Abuse. 2017, acog.org
- A Tribute to Sex Addicts Who Abused as Children. 2014, psychologytoday.com
- Childhood Sexual Abuse: Sexual Recovery Is Possible. 2016, psychologytoday.com
- Sexual Assault / Abuse. 2019, goodtherapy.org
- Russell DE. The prevalence and seriousness of incestuous abuse: stepfathers vs. biological fathers. Child Abuse Negl. 1984;8(1):15-22. doi: 10.1016/0145-2134(84)90045-0. PMID: 6609753.
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