These listed are not diagnostic tool and are not intended to serve as a way to determine weather you’ve been sexually abused. Reading about the range of effects that survivors of child sexual abused experience can help you look honestly at the impact of abused in your life today. Some of the effects of child sexual abused are quite specific- such as intrusive images abuse of the abused while making love. Others are more general –such as low-self esteem or difficulty expressing feelings-and can be caused by a range of influences other than
child sexual abuse. Physical and emotional abuse, as well as many other challenging life circumstances, can also lead to many of the difficulties listed here. If you recognized your own problems in the following lists but are unsure if you were sexually abused, don’t rush to label yourself as a survivor before your sure. This information is taken from the book “The Courage to Heal” A guide for women survivors of child sexual abuse by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis.

How Abused Effects Self Esteem

Many survivors feel
• Bad, dirty, or ashamed
• Powerless, Like a victim
• Different from other people
• That there’s something wrong deep down inside
• That if people really knew them they’d leave
• Hate themselves
• Feel immobilized pr can’t get motivated
• Are unable to protect themselves in dangerous situations
• Have experience repeated victimization ( rape, assault, battery) as adults
• Struggle with self- destructive feelings or feel suicidal
Often Survivors have a hard time:
• Identifying their own needs

• Nurturing and taking care of themselves
• Feeling good
• Trusting their intuition
• Recognizing their own interest , goals or talents
Some Survivors:
• Are afraid to succeed
• Can’t accomplished the things that they set out to do
• Feel that they can never move forward in their lives
• Feel compelled to be perfect
• Use excessive works or achievements to compensate for feelings of inadequacy
• Forget whole chucks in their childhood


How Abuse Affects feelings
Often Survivors find it difficult to :
 Recognizing their feelings
 Differentiate between emotions
 Express feelings
 Clam down when they get upset
Many Survivors feel :
 Feel disconnected, Isolated , and alone
 A pervasive sense of shame
 Just a few feelings , rather than a full range of emotions
 Out of control with their rage or other feelings.
 Confused
 Dead in inside
Many Survivors :
 Are prone to depression or despair
 Struggle with anxiety or panic attacks
 Alternate between Overwhelming anxiety, fear, or rage and being numb and shut down
 Feel agitated and on alert
 Have frequent nightmares
 Are afraid of their emotions
 Worry about going crazy
 Rarely feel pleasure, relaxation or Joy


How Abused Affects The Body
Many Survivors have a hard time:
 Appreciating and accepting their bodies
 Feeling at home in their skin
 Being fully present in their bodies
 Experiencing a full range of feelings in their bodies
 Experiencing their body as unified whole
Some Survivors:
 Have hurt themselves and have abused their bodies
 Misuse or are addicted to alcohol or drugs
 Have eating disorders
 Have physical illness that may be connected to abuse
 Feel as though they sometimes leave their bodies
 Don’t feel pleasure in physical activities such as dance or sports
Often Survivors:
 Aren’t aware of the messages their bodies give them (hunger, fear, tiredness, pain) – or don’t responds to these messages.
 Mistrust of blame their bodies
 Feel numb or disconnected from physical sensations
 Startle easily and have a hard time calming down
 Are often on high alert for danger
 Are unable to relax or feel psychically safe

How Abused Affects the Capacity of Initamcy
Many Survivors find it difficult to:
 Trust people
 To make close friends
 To create or maintain healthy relationships
 To give or receive nurturing
 To be affectionate
 To say no or set appropriate boundaries
Many Survivors:
 Feel that they don’t deserve love
 Are afraid of people
 Feel alienated or isolated
 Rarely feel connected to themselves or others
 Get involved with people who are inappropriate or unavailable
 Don’t know whom to trust or trust too readily
 Frequently feel betrayed or taking advantage of
 Have good friends but struggle in romantic or sexual relationships
Some Survivors:
 Are unable to form lasting relationships
 Have trouble making commitments
 Shut down, get nervous , or panic when people get too close
 Cling to the people they care about
 Repeatedly test people to the point of sabotaging relationships
 Expect people to leave them
 Get involved with people who abused them


How Abused Affects Sexuality
Many Survivors:
• Feel disconnected when they have sex
• Go through sex numb or in panic
• Use sex to meet needs that aren’t sexual
• Avoid sex or seek sex they really don’t want
• Feel that their worth is primarily sexual
• Feel conflicted when they experience desire or sexual pleasure
• Need to control everything about sex to feel safe
• Experience flashback to the abuse while making love
• Feel confused whether they want to have sex
Often Survivors have trouble:
• Saying no to sex that they don’t want
• Accepting nurturing or closeness that isn’t sexual
• Staying present when making love
• Being emotionally close and sexual at the same time (or with the same person)
Some Survivors:
• Think sex is disgusting or that they’re disgusting for enjoying it
• Are turned on by violent, sadistic , or incestuous fantasies
• Engage in sex that repeats aspects of their abuse
• Have continued to be sexually abused
• Use sex as way to exert power and control
• Have been sexually abusive to others
How Abused Affects Family relationships
 The sexual abused has not been talked about or acknowledge
 Incest is denied or minimized
 The survivor is told to “forgive” and “forget” or “ let the past be in the past “
 The needs of the abuser are put ahead of the needs of the survivor
 The survivor becomes the family scapegoat; all of the family problems are blamed on the survivor.
 Some family members aren’t supportive which is why incest still goes on.

You can heal from the effects of abused
If you feel overwhelmed about the long- term affects of abused, remember that you have already lived through the hardest part – the abused itself. You have survived against formidable odds. The same abuse that undercut you has also provided you with many of the inner resources necessary for healing. On e quality every survivor can be confident of having is strength. And with an understanding of what it takes to heal, that strength leads directly to determination.
Writing Exercise: The Effects
Write about the ways you’re still affected by the abused. What are still carrying in terms of your feelings of self worth, your relationships, your sexuality, your work? How your life is still pained, still limited?
Write about the strength you’ve developed because of the abused. Think of what it’s taken for you to survive. What are the qualities that enabled you to make it? Perseverance? Flexibility? Self-Sufficiency? Write about your strengths with pride.

I am 21-year-old woman and I am proud of myself that I am trying to work with the effects of abused. Reading this book help me understand myself more, it brings out the hidden part of me that I ignored. I share this information with you so that you can also help yourselves. I thank the women and men who have e-mailed me and share their experiences; we can fix our issues by working it out together.
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Together we can STOP SEXUAL ABUSE!!!