If you have experienced sexual abuse as a child you may develop some short-term and long-term effects, for example:
Guilt, shame, and blame. You might feel guilty about not being able to stop the abuse, or even blame yourself if you experienced physical pleasure. It is important for you to understand that it was the person that hurt you that should be held accountable—not you.
Intimacy and relationships. It is possible that your first experiences with sex came as a result of sexual abuse. As an adult, intimacy might be a struggle at times, some survivors experience flashbacks or painful memories while engaging in adult sexual activity, even though it is in a consensual and loving relationship.
Self-esteem. Survivors may struggle with low self-esteem, this can affect many different areas of your life such as relationships, career, and health.
Rage. Survivors can be left with an overwhelming rage, which can impact on every day life and relationships.
Some survivors keep the secret of abuse for many years, they may have tried to tell an adult and met with resistance or felt there was no one they could trust. For these reasons and many others, the effects of sexual abuse can occur many years after the abuse has ended.
How should I respond when someone tells me they were sexually abused?
“I believe you”
“I am sorry this happened to you”
“It was not your fault”
“You are not alone”
“You can trust me”
“This will not change how I think of you”
“I am glad you were able to tell me about this”
Making any kind of judgement
Inferring they should be over it now
Asking about the details of what happened