Childhood Sexual Abuse Can Cause Mental Health Problems In Adults

Carrying trauma from your childhood is so draining and it has far-reaching effects on your physical and mental health. Many people experience flashbacks and PTSD symptoms after surviving sexual abuse as a child, but often, the impact is less direct. Even those that do not think about the abuse itself that much and assume that they are not affected by the trauma that much may experience a range of mental and physical health issues. Survivors of childhood sexual abuse do not always connect the dots and they don’t realize that the issues they experience are related to their trauma.

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Understanding what potential issues can be caused in adulthood can help survivors recognize when their trauma is affecting them. These are some of the most common physical and mental health issues caused by childhood sexual abuse. 


Depression is one of the most common mental health issues we face right now and there are a lot of reasons why people develop it in the first place. However, studies show that there is a strong correlation between people that experienced abuse as a child and people that suffer from serious depressive disorders. As an adult, attending depression counseling can help manage the symptoms and you may even be able to start unpacking some of that trauma.

However, research suggests that early intervention to support children is the key to avoiding this issue in later life. 

Substance Abuse And Eating Disorders 

Dangerous behaviors like substance abuse and eating disorders are also more prevalent in survivors of childhood sexual abuse. The symptoms of trauma are often difficult to manage, especially if the survivor does not have the support that they need. Many sexual abuse survivors also suffer from other mental health issues and it’s common for them to self medicate with alcohol or drugs. Eating disorders are often a way of gaining control over one aspect of their life because a person feels so out of control in other areas. 

Sexual Confusion

Sexual confusion is incredibly common in male survivors of childhood sexual assault. Boys that are abused by older men when they are too young to understand sexuality will be confused about whether they are homosexual or not. This confusion remains as they grow older and it can make it incredibly difficult for them to form meaningful relationships. 


We think of obesity as a fairly straightforward problem; if you eat too much, you gain weight. But it’s far more complicated than that and childhood sexual abuse often has a role to play. During a weight loss study, it was discovered that many of the participants that struggled to stop overeating had been abused as children. Further research in the area has shown that there is a direct correlation between obesity and childhood sexual abuse. 

If we are ever to deal with the issue of childhood sexual abuse and help survivors regain power over their lives, it is important that we understand just how much impact it has in adulthood. These are some of the most common ways that sexual abuse manifests in adulthood, but there are countless other health issues that it can cause.  

This is a collaborative post.


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