What Are the Mental Effects Resulting from Child Sex Abuse?

Child sex abuse or sex assault takes place when a minor child is exposed to sexual activity. This happens when the minor child is forced or talked into a sexual activity by another person. Sexual violence can include different kinds of sexual assault such as rape, molestation, incest, or any other forms of non-consensual sexual contact.

Sexual abuse leaves long and devastating mental effects on children. They often blame themselves for the sexual assault and feel utterly depressed about the whole situation. Sexual abuse can make them feel ashamed, terrorized, depressed, and guilty.

Following are some of the mental effects that result from child sex abuse.


Children who’ve faced sexual assault are most likely to deal with depression. Sexual abuse tarnishes their self-worth and makes them feel miserable. This feeling leads them to hopelessness. If a proper therapy is not given, the depression which started off from being mild and fleeting can become intense and debilitating.


There are a lot of chances that victims of sexual assault struggle with anxiety problems. The fear of getting attacked again can intensify their level of anxiety. Moreover, some victims also become terrified to leave their homes and may develop agoraphobia. Someone who was sexually assaulted by a fair, tall man with green eyes may fear or dislike all men who match this description. Sexual abuse can also cause them to have severe panic attacks.

Attachment Disruptions

It becomes quite difficult for victims, especially children, who have been abused, to form a healthy attachment with others. They hesitate in developing attachments to other people because they’re mostly scared. The struggle with intimacy is really challenging for them. They may not be able to form close attachments with others due to their current mind state.


Many case studies and research have suggested that children who are sexually assaulted are more likely to become addicted to drugs. They take drugs to numb the pain of abuse but while doing so, they develop the habit of intaking substance abuse which may lead to other serious problems.

Posttraumatic Stress

Child sexual abuse can cause posttraumatic stress (PSTD) which can be described as anxiety, depression, and despondency. Personality disruptions are also experienced by the victims of sexual assault.


Triggers act as stimuli that constantly remind victims of the abuse they experienced in the past. Anything related to the attacker can trigger the memory of the victim, frightening them all of a sudden. For instance, if a child is raped by someone who chewed spearmint gum, might be triggered and go to a flashback by the smell of spearmint. Intense discussions of sexual assault can also cause triggers for the victims.

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