13 thoughts on “11 Common Symptoms Experienced by Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse

  • April 6, 2018 at 2:25 am

    Hi Misha,
    I was thinking about you off and on, wondering if you would be writing another article soon and am happy to see one now–despite wishing we didn’t NEED articles on abuse because it’s been eradicated. Unfortunately, I don’t think that will ever happen…
    As I read, I was trying to remember if I showed any symptoms as a kid being sexually abused. Do you think it’s ever possible that a child would show NO indicators over years of abuse? I truly wonder about that because on the rare occasion my mom refers to “it” (she has never used the word abuse to acknowledge what her ex husband did to me yet she says that she believes me) she says “how could I do anything about it if I never knew? You seemed fine.” That is a tough one for me because even when she DID know when I was 17, she did nothing but fall apart.
    As I read your list of symptoms I KNOW I experienced disassociation at times. I also had times of intense fear when she would leave the house but I wouldn’t show it except to protest or on occasion, cry when I was very young if perhaps she was going to the store. She probably interpreted it as me wanting a treat or something but that wasn’t the issue.
    I thought of one symptom that isn’t on here so maybe it just applies to me. I wouldn’t change or shower with the other girls for gym class and one year got my only bad grade–solely for that reason. Oddly enough, I don’t remember getting in trouble for the bad grade when I got home!
    The other thing I just now thought of and that is, I always had to have a blanket or at least a sheet wrapped around me in order to sleep at night–even in the summer.
    Did I mention to you in my last comment that my former stepfather died suddenly? He died on January 18th.
    Oddly enough (this would probably mean something to an analytic therapist now that I am thinking about it) despite being postmenopausal by about 3 years, I began bleeding 3 days before he died. I called my regular medical provider and was sent for a pelvic ultrasound and then promptly found myself caught up in a whirlwind of appointments, tests etc. The ultrasound showed a 16 mm double thickness uterine lining and so I was referred to a gynecologist in the same building. She did an exam, had difficulty accessing my cervix and scheduled a surgery called a hysteroscopy. It was a day surgery.
    Then when the pathology report came back, two pathologists said yes it is cancer, two said no it’s not cancer so they asked a fifth who said no. My gynecologist wasn’t comfortable with those odds and said “it’s a mess in there and you are so full of uterine polyps I stopped counting.” She sent me to another city to see a gynecologist oncologist. I was terrified!
    Oncologist did her exam, reviewed my pathology report and said it is Complex Atypical Endometrial Hyperplasia, and it is precancerous. I had a total hysterectomy on March 20th. It’s been a strange few months.
    Hope YOU are well!

    • April 7, 2018 at 9:16 am

      Hi Lori,
      It sounds like you have been through quite a lot in the past few months. Your intuition seems right on when you say that your physical experiences may not be simply coincidental with your stepfather’s death but this is something best addressed in the psychoanalytic clinic. It is certainly interesting to think about.
      I am not sure if it’s possible for a child who has been sexually abused to show no symptoms whatsoever. It seems to me that this is a question of how attuned the adults are to the child’s world and their experience. Good question though.
      Thanks for commenting!

      • April 8, 2018 at 2:31 am

        Yes, definitely been an intense few months… Thanks for the response.

  • April 8, 2018 at 9:08 pm

    Hi there,
    Found this lost from a friends that shared it on Facebook. It was a good read & inciteful. I think it’s really important to have open conversation on such a difficult topic to talk about in hopes of seeing the signs earlier and in all hope for things like this to be stopped. As someone who went through this myself as a child ik how hard it can be. Looking back I think I definitely experience a lot of this as a child. Although unnoticed. However, I do have a question. Is hypersexyality the only representation or is the opposite sexuality wise also an indication. I didn’t show any of those signs of hypersexuality when I was a kid because I was deeply afraid of it and jus thought it was wrong. Then later in life I also wanted nothing to do with sex. Is that a common thing as well or just hypersexuality? Thanks!

    • April 9, 2018 at 10:49 am

      Hi Alice,
      Thanks so much for your comment. You raise a very good question and you are absolutely right, the opposite of hypersexuality is also true for victims of childhood sexual abuse. A revulsion of sex or certain sexual acts can also be a consequence of a traumatic sexual experience. As you can probably imagine, this can be problematic for intimate relationships as intimacy and sexuality play a big and important part of healthy, adult relationships.
      Very good point!

      • April 9, 2018 at 11:09 pm

        Thanks for the reply I didn’t know if that was something that pertained to just me or not. I also have one more question. I know I should just be asking these to my therapist. I am going to do that once she gets back from maternity leave.wrote them down and everything. However I want to make sure that I’m still doing things to progress and figure things out myself in the meantime. My question is, what is the right way to approach a child that you suspect has been sexually assualted? Like how do you go about it to have them be able to open up to you? I ask because I feel like as a child even if people noticed and reached out I me I probably still wouldn’t have said a thing.

      • April 10, 2018 at 2:48 pm

        Hi Alice,
        This is another very good question and it is hard to answer. I think, ideally, parents should be having conversations with their kids from a young age about what’s appropriate and what’s inappropriate touching; let them know that they have the right to say “No” to touching and even hugs or kisses, as well as to have an open statement that no one is allowed to touch your body and your private parts and if they did, you should tell your parents. There are children’s books about safety and “My body is my own”-type books that should be read just like we read about talking to strangers, going to the doctor, going through divorce, or an illness, etc.

        Then, if a parent or an adult suspects something, then it is okay to ask directly, “Did someone hurt you?” Or “Did someone make you do something you did not want to?” Etc., with the understanding that “it is okay to tell me, I will make sure that you are safe.”

        But since you have been through this, let me ask you, how would you have liked someone to approach you in order for you to open up? I think that’s very important.

      • April 10, 2018 at 11:52 pm

        I think that’s all really good advice that everyone needs to be aware of. I want to make sure that if any children in my life are out in any position like that they would feel comfortable coming to me so thank you. Also, I’ve been thinking about this a lot since I read this. I think it’s hard for me to distinguish what I would’ve like to of happened because I keep getting caught up in what really happened and how I know things to be for me. With that being said I think all the points you listed would’ve help a lot. However for me, I don’t think directly asking me as a child would’ve helped any. In fact I think it would’ve done the opposite because anytime I was approached and questioned about anything it meant that I was about to be in an immense amount of trouble. However if things were different I think that the things you said would’ve helped a ton. Idk some kids might respond better when things aren’t asked directly though

    • April 28, 2019 at 9:48 am

      There are so many more effects from childhood sex abuse and my generation are only now talking about ours and I am in my 70s. There are so many triggers and you are weakened as a child and you end up marring the wrong people (cohesive control) you don’t know who you are till you start staring back at your demons and putting the shame and guilt back on the abuser.
      Every ones childhood sex abuse is different. I grew up thinking that sex was love and until I learned it wasn’t my believe was a broken view. We are a good target for abusive men and there are lots of things we end up with physically because of abuse, and of course it leads to self harm by cutting, scratching, eating disorders which has an enormous effect on physical health.
      Proper research needs to be done

  • June 13, 2018 at 1:21 pm

    I just wanted to say thanks for the post as i have found it quite insightfull..informative.


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