How Does Childhood Sexual Abuse Impact Adulthood?

How Does Childhood Sexual Abuse Impact Adulthood?

Childhood Sexual Abuse 

Sexual abuse is one of the most devastating crimes against children. It destroys lives, families, and communities. In fact, according to the National Center for Child Traumatic Stress, an estimated 1 out of 4 girls and 1 out of 6 boys has been sexually abused. Unfortunately, sexual abuse often goes unreported. That means that there may be thousands of victims of sexual abuse living in our community right now.

We believe that everyone deserves justice. We believe that no child should ever suffer the pain of sexual abuse again.

Victims of child sexual should know they can file civil lawsuits against the perpetrator and sometimes a third party. In these cases, the victim may receive compensation for his or her pain and suffering, lost wages, medical bills, and any other damages suffered due to the abuse.

If you or a loved one has been a victim of child sexual abuse, our child sex abuse attorneys at Garden State Justice Group offer compassionate legal guidance. Child sexual abuse victims can seek justice and compensation for their injuries. 

What Is Childhood Sexual Abuse?

Childhood sexual abuse is one of the most common types of trauma experienced by children.

It happens when an adult takes advantage of a child sexually. This may include touching the child inappropriately, forcing the child to touch themselves, exposing the child to pornography, or engaging in any type of sexual activity with the child.

Sexual abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of gender, race, religion, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or physical ability. Although childhood sexual abuse is often difficult to recognize, there are signs that indicate whether or not a child has been abused. If you suspect that your child has been abused, talk to him/her about what happened.

Childhood Sexual Abuse Statistics

Sexual abuse happens to children of all ages but most commonly occurs between the ages of 3 and 12 years old. According to the National Center for Child Traumatic Stress, one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before the age of 18.

In addition, about half of all sexual abusers are known to the child victim. Most often, the abuser is an adult relative or friend of the child. However, there are cases where strangers are involved.

It is estimated that over 2 million children are victims of sexual abuse each year. This number does not include those who were sexually abused as adults. Many times, the perpetrator is someone close to the child, such as a parent, grandparent, babysitter, teacher, coach, neighbor, etc. Other perpetrators may be acquaintances or people the child knows well. According to Unicef, 90% of female children that reported abuse alleged that they were abused by someone they knew.

Types of Childhood Sexual Abuse

Childhood sexual abuse is one of the most common types of trauma experienced by children.

There are four main types of childhood sexual abuse:

• Physical abuse

Physical abuse is the most common type of childhood sexual abuse. It usually involves physical contact such as hitting, grabbing, shoving, or pushing. It can also include touching, pinching, slapping, punching, kicking, biting, burning, choking, shaking, or throwing objects.

• Emotional abuse 

Emotional abuse often occurs alongside physical abuse. For example, parents may yell at their children, call them names, threaten them, or isolate them from others. Parents may also tell their children that they don't love them. Emotional abuse may include verbal threats, name-calling, humiliation, intimidation, isolation, or abandonment

• Indecent exposure 

Indecent exposure is the least common form of childhood sexual abuse. Children are exposed to indecent acts without consent. They may see adults expose themselves or masturbate in front of them. Indecent explosion often includes showing genitals or breasts to another person. 

• Rape 

Rape is the most severe form of childhood sexual abuse and is defined as an unwanted sexual activity involving penetration, such as penetration of the vagina, anus, mouth, or penis. The perpetrator uses force or threat of force to accomplish this act.

Children who experience sexual abuse often feel confused about what happened. They may blame themselves for what happened. They may think that they caused the abuse by doing something wrong. They may believe that they deserved the abuse. They may try to avoid situations that remind them of the abuse. They may become anxious, depressed, angry, or fearful. They may develop eating disorders, sleep problems, or substance use.

Signs of Childhood Sexual Abuse

We've all heard stories about childhood sexual abuse, but what do those signs actually mean?

Here are just a few common signs of childhood sexual abuse:

  • Being afraid to go out alone
  • Having secrets
  • Feeling dirty
  • Acting out sexually
  • Hiding things
  • Avoiding certain people
  • Failing grades
  • Getting into trouble
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Withdrawing from friends and family

The Impact of Childhood Sexual Abuse

Childhood sexual abuse has been shown to impact every aspect of a person’s life. It affects physical health, emotional well-being, social relationships, educational achievement, and employment opportunities. In addition to these effects, childhood sexual abuse may lead to substance abuse, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, self-harm behaviors, suicide attempts, and chronic pain.

1. Physical Health

Physical health problems associated with childhood sexual abuse include sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, and cancer. These conditions are often caused by unsafe sex practices, such as oral sex, anal sex, and vaginal intercourse without protection. Sexual abuse survivors are also more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior than those who were not abused. They may feel ashamed and guilty about engaging in sexual activity, leading them to avoid seeking medical care.

2. Emotional Well-Being

Emotional distress is common among victims of child sexual abuse. Survivors may suffer from depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and feelings of guilt. Many survivors develop eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia. Some survivors become addicted to drugs or alcohol.

3. Social Relationships

Victims of child sexual abuse may experience difficulty forming close friendships and romantic relationships. They may fear rejection and abandonment and struggle to trust others.

4. Substance Abuse

People who have been sexually abused are at greater risk for developing substance use disorders. Substance abuse includes using illegal drugs, prescription medications, and over-the-counter medicines. Alcohol and drug abuse may result in poor decision-making skills, which could put one's safety at risk.

5. Self-Harm Behaviors

Self-injury is a form of self-harming behavior. It involves deliberately injuring oneself physically or emotionally. Examples of self-injurious behaviors include cutting, burning, scratching, hitting, banging, and biting.

6. Suicide Attempts

Suicide is the third leading cause of death among adolescents and young adults. Those who have been sexually abused have higher rates of suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts than those who have not been abused as children.

Longterm Effects Of Sexual Abuse

After sexual abuse, victims may suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD is an anxiety disorder that develops after experiencing or witnessing something very frightening or upsetting. People who experience trauma are more likely to develop PTSD than people who do not experience trauma. PTSD symptoms include flashbacks, nightmares, irritability, hypervigilance, sleep disturbances, and difficulty concentrating.

Sexual abuse is one of the most traumatic experiences a person can go through. It can affect every aspect of a person’s life. It can cause physical problems such as headaches, stomachaches, back pain, insomnia, depression, anxiety, and sexual dysfunction. It can also lead to emotional problems such as low self-esteem, feelings of shame, guilt, anger, fear, and confusion. In addition, victims may develop eating disorders, substance abuse, suicidal thoughts, and other psychological issues. It can also lead to social problems such as isolation, poor school performance, and trouble keeping friends.

Longterm Physical Effects Of Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse has been shown to cause a variety of physical effects, such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, substance abuse, and sexual dysfunction. It may seem like these problems would go away after the abuse ends, but they often don't. In fact, research shows that children who were sexually abused tend to suffer from these issues into adulthood, such as:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Eating Disorders
  • Substance Abuse
  • Sexually Dysfunctional Problems

Can I Still File a Child Sex Lawsuit in New Jersey?

Many states have statutes of limitation for bringing lawsuits. These limits vary depending on the type of injury and the age of the victim. Some states have no limit on filing claims for childhood sexual abuse; others have very short deadlines.

New Jersey has one of the longest statutes of limitations for filing child sex abuse lawsuits. This means that most victims of childhood sexual abuse will not be able to file a lawsuit against their abuser until they reach adulthood.

In New Jersey, the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit for childhood sexual abuse is 20 years. However, there are exceptions to this rule. If the victim was under 13 years old when the abuse occurred, then the statute of limitations does not begin to run until the victim turns 18.

A civil lawsuit against an abuser can provide financial relief and healing for victims. But filing a lawsuit isn't something you should do alone. These regulations and exceptions are complex, and victims should seek the legal counsel of an experienced child sex abuse attorney within their state. It's important to hire a qualified attorney to represent you in court. An experienced New Jersey child sex abuse lawyer can guide you through the legal system and ensure that you receive fair treatment.

If the victim decides to pursue a lawsuit against the abuser, then the victim's attorneys should file a civil suit. The victim's lawsuit should include claims for medical expenses, emotional distress, pain and suffering, loss of future earnings, and punitive damages.

Hiring Sexual Abuse Attorneys to Get Justice

The law office of Garden State Justice Group has experience representing clients in cases involving child sexual abuse. We can help you decide whether you have enough time to bring a claim before the deadline expires. If you have questions about whether you have a valid case or if you want to learn more about your legal options, contact our law office today for a free consultation.

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Shane Sullivan, Esq.
Date Published: April 27, 2022
Shane Sullivan, Esq. is a New Jersey Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer that represents those who were injured or the family's of those killed by the negligence of others in personal injury lawsuits throughout New Jersey.
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