The very idea of childhood evokes images of wonder, optimism, and innocence. It’s supposed to be the portion of your life where you feel the safest and most secure. The stability of a solid family helps you learn how to build safe relationships throughout your life. That is ideal when it comes to childhood. Sadly, many children don’t have that experience. They are traumatised by people they trust and it can have an impact on the rest of their lives. 

How Child Sexual Assault Affects Adults 

Childhood trauma can take a variety of forms, from sexual or physical abuse and intense bullying to bearing witness to a traumatic event or being in an extreme situation, such as a natural disaster or a refugee situation. Childhood trauma can also be a child experiencing a serious illness that requires hospitalisation or surgery or being a witness to domestic violence. In this case, we focus entirely on child sexual assault. Though it’s worth noting that child sexual assault includes more than just touching. No act of sex needs to take place for a victim to experience child sexual abuse. Child abuse laws in Australia include verbal and/or emotional sexual behaviour, including a perpetrator forcing victims to watch pornographic material or describing sexual acts. Children cannot consent to sex. 

Adults have the emotional skills to process trauma in a way that children don’t, but adults still struggle with trauma and untreated, it can result in PTSD. Through a child’s eyes, these traumas can negatively impact the entirety of their lives. They carry shame and they lay blame at their own feet. 

Physical & Psychological Symptoms

Adults who experienced sexual abuse in their childhood often experience a variety of symptoms, from physical symptoms to behavioural and psychological symptoms. The effects are long-reaching and can be devastating. 

Physical Symptoms 

  • Chronic pain (headaches, back pain, pelvic pain, etc)
  • Musculoskeletal disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Sleep disorders
  • Respiratory ailments
  • Substance abuse and addiction
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Gastrointestinal issues 

Psychological Symptoms 

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Self-harm
  • PTSD
  • Dissociative states
  • Suicidal ideations
  • Risky sexual behaviour
  • Intolerance of intimacy
  • A constant need for intimacy
  • Somatic symptom disorder 

The effects of child sexual abuse trauma are many. If a child is subject to abuse at the hands of a trusted person they will seek their own coping mechanisms that allow them to function daily. They start to live on eggshells, waiting for the next incident. They are prone to mood swings, sensitive to interactions, and may fly into a rage for no apparent reason. Children learn how to adapt to the situation by masking or withholding their emotions. This will continue into adulthood if no professional treatment is provided. Ultimately, it fractures a child’s foundation and can stretch into every facet of their adult life. 

There isn’t a perfect list of symptoms and not every victim will experience the ones we have identified. Some children may experience short-term effects, while others will have long-term effects that persist into adulthood. Treatment is the key to resolving trauma. Some survivors appear unaffected by their abuse. However, they may be adept at masking their emotions or covering up their trauma. There are several categories that the effects fall under, including emotional reactions, PTSD, sexual effects, social functioning, self-perceptions, interpersonal effects, and physical effects. 

How The NRS Can Help Victims Get The Compensation They Deserve 

The National Redress Scheme can help you get the compensation you deserve. It was created to provide victims with an outlet to make their voices heard and receive treatment. It also provides compensation, and you can also receive an apology from the institution at fault. 

Before you file your sexual abuse claims application for a National Redress Scheme payment, you should speak to a lawyer. The Royal Commission Sexual Abuse report made clear that victims could seek compensation for childhood trauma in adults. However, you can only make your application once so, you must include all of the relevant information to ensure it is successful and that you are awarded a fair amount. Additionally, there is a cap of $150,000 on payouts via the NRS. 

At AJB Stevens, we look after your best interests. Not only do we specialise in abuse law, but we also understand the ins and outs of the Royal Commission’s findings. We can provide you with guidance on how to complete your application to ensure you receive appropriate compensation. We can advise you as to whether it would be better to pursue a legal case that would ensure a larger payout. We want you to make an informed decision to get the result you deserve. Get in touch with us today to discuss your options. It’s time someone else looked out for your well-being.