Effects of Child Sexual Assault

Effects of Child Sexual Assault

Surviving Childhood Sexual Assault

The impacts of child sexual assault are usually complex and severe. It is normal that a man who has suffered child abuse will experience a range of negative effects for many years after the abuse.

However in our experience with adult survivors of child sexual abuse, what we are working with is not only the effects of the abuse, but also the unwanted side-effects of the strategies survivors adopt to help them deal with these effects.

Anyone who has lived through traumatic experiences in childhood has out of necessity developed a range of creative, effective strategies that helped them survive and go on to live some sort of a life. Very often, however, the strategies that worked in childhood don’t work so well in the adult world.

What brings men to services like SAMSSA is usually not so much the original abuse, but a crisis in the progress of the strategies the survivor has been using to manage the effects of the abuse. For instance, a drinking problem gets so bad the man had to go into rehabilitation; a way of managing relationships becomes so dysfunctional that a partner threatens to leave, and so on.

Men are sometimes surprised to find that what they think of as their current problem was originally developed as a strategy for dealing with their abuse. Rather than listing all the negative effects child abuse can have on a man’s life, in the following section we will about some of the strategies men use to manage the impacts of their abuse, and how these strategies can sometimes ‘take over’.