Victims of child sexual abuse experience the aftereffects of that abuse throughout their lives. There are a lot of complicated emotions to address. Some victims feel fear about coming forward; some feel shame, guilt, or embarrassment. Others may feel as though they are to blame for their abuse. While all emotions are valid, it’s fair to say that our emotions aren’t always true. This is why it is so important that victims have support to process those complex emotions and address mental health issues stemming from the abuse they experienced. 

What Is Sexual Abuse? 

Any sexual contact between an adult and child is classed as sexual abuse. An adult using a child for sexual purposes is also classed as sexual abuse. The act of sex does not need to be perpetrated on a victim for it to be classed as child sexual abuse. Verbal and emotional sexual behaviour can also be classed as child sexual abuse, from forcing children to watch pornographic material to a perpetrator describing sexual acts to a child. 

In most cases, the perpetrator or someone known and trusted to the child. Whether the child was coerced, forced, tricked, or not, if they are under the age of consent, they cannot willingly consent to sex. This includes using their power to involve a child in sexual activities, forced or unwanted sexual acts or touching, or indecent assault. 

How Child Sex Abuse Affects You As An Adult 

How does child sexual abuse affect victims into adulthood? Mental health issues are the most common result. Child sexual abuse is a traumatic event so, many victims will experience PTSD, which often manifests in nightmares and flashbacks. 

How trauma affects someone will depend on the type of trauma, the severity of it, other trauma that has been experienced, the length of the abuse, and how people reacted when the abuse was shared with them. 

As an adult survivor of child sexual abuse, you may experience anxiety. Anxiety is a lot like stress; you feel worried, on edge, unsafe, and unable to relax. Anxiety looks different in everyone. Some people may feel excessive worry or fear, while others may feel it more physically. Common symptoms of anxiety include excessive sweating, tightness in your chest, and an increased heart rate. It can be debilitating when it impacts your daily life. 

While anxiety and depression often walk hand-in-hand, they can exist separately from each other as well. If you are dealing with depression, you may feel down, hopeless, listless, sad, or you may no longer find enjoyment in the things you love. A lot of people may feel like this from time to time, but if you feel like this more often than not, it could be the result of depression. 

Low self-esteem is often an issue that follows victims, as they lose their sense of confidence, and feel ashamed. Isolation can take hold, which comes with its own mental health issues. You may experience flashbacks, nightmares, mood swings, and struggle to trust the people around you. You have issues with anger, impulsivity, or dissociation. Some victims self-harm, whether it is a conscious decision or unconscious harm such as substance abuse. 

There is an increased risk of suicide for survivors of child sexual abuse. They have a higher risk of suicidal ideations and attempts. One study points to evidence that the risk factor for suicide attempts increased threefold for victims of child sexual abuse. This study drew from 68 studies from all over the world. 

Who Can You Speak To About Historical Child Sexual Abuse 

There are a lot of complex emotions to process, including shock, denial, fear, and it can be difficult to talk about. If you want to know more about child abuse laws in Australia and about sexual abuse claims, you should reach out to a lawyer to discuss your situation.

It’s never too late to seek help for the trauma you experienced as a child. The sooner you seek intervention, the better, but you can address childhood trauma in adults now. Under the National Redress Scheme, your payment can reflect prior therapy or future therapy costs. Seeking treatment can help you deal with troubling emotions and thoughts. It can also address unhelpful coping strategies you may rely on to deal with those thoughts and emotions. 

How AJB Stevens Can Help You 

If you want to file a claim with the National Redress Scheme, you need a good lawyer for a child abuse case. The Royal Commission Sexual Abuse outcome provides victims with an avenue to secure National Redress Scheme Payments. It is an option for victims of institutional child sex abuse victims. The scheme can also force a response from the institution that provided the abuser with access to their victims. Contact AJB Stevens to discuss whether this is the right move for you. Filing a claim through the National Redress Scheme isn’t always the right move. For some victims, filing a damages claim is the right option. Whatever your decision, we are happy to discuss your options and provide you with advice and guidance on how best to proceed.