Copyright © 2020 | Shelley L. Heusser
BSocSc Psych. (UCT), BA. Hons Psych. (UCT), MA. Clin. Psych. (NMMU)
Practice No: 0445800 Reg No: 0112860
Adult Survivors of Sexual Abuse
Sexual trauma suffered in childhood has lasting psychological
consequences. Some individuals experience severe symptoms or long-
term suffering, whereas others do not. However, every survivor of
childhood sexual abuse experiences deep-seated pangs of shame and
loathing than colour their interactions with themselves and others.
Survivors of childhood sexual trauma are at high risk of posttraumatic
stress disorder (PTSD). They are also more likely to suffer from
depression, suicide, and drug and alcohol addiction later in life.
Childhood sexual trauma may also affect one’s ability to develop and
maintain relationships. For instance, some adult survivors may
demonstrate high-risk compulsive sexual behaviors and promiscuity.
The emotional distress experienced by adult survivors of childhood
sexual abuse may also be related to their use of particular coping
strategies. Drugs and alcohol are used to protect the individual from
negative feelings and thoughts, but these coping behaviours add to
more distress because they create problems in one’s environment, and
never really allow one to forget about the trauma.
Extreme experiences of abuse and trauma are also associated with
symptoms of a personality disorder known as Borderline Personality
Disorder. Borderline Personality Disorder is characterized by chronic
patterns of instability in relationships, goals, values, and mood, non-fatal
suicidal behavior and suicidal threats, and other impulsive behaviors that
may be harmful (e.g., substance abuse, unsafe sex)