Child sexual abuse often has long-term consequences. Adults molested as children can feel “stuck” in their lives. They often live their lives from a frame of reference that includes hopelessness. A lot of adults molested as children feel like they simply don’t belong and feel rejected by life itself. They talk about “existing” instead of “living.”
Adults molested as children can have a variety of problems. Some may have relatively few problems. Others may have a host of different problems. One thing to remember is we are all different. We react differently to the same circumstance. We experience events differently. We have different thought processes, different levels of support, and an altogether different frame of reference. It is important that adults molested as children understand they may have more or less problems than another but this doesn’t make them weaker or more powerful. It makes them different.
Despite difference, adults molested as children do tend to have some issues in common. Here are some of the more common problems we see:
- Difficulty developing or maintaining close relationships
- Becoming either too attention-seeking or too isolated
- Tendency to have more physical problems
- Chronic feelings of sadness
- Frequent episodes of fear and/or anger
- Panic attacks
- Flashbacks and/or nightmares
- Engaging in sexual promiscuity or avoid sex altogether
- Recurring problems with substance abuse
- Engaging in cutting and self-harm
- Becoming obsessive about achieving more and more
- Low self-worth
Adults molested as children may experience any number of other symptoms but those listed are very common and ones I see often as a counselor.
You may feel like the problems you are experiencing will never end. Adults molested as children have experienced problems for so long, it can seem hopeless. The problems are simply part of life. I have good news for you – there is hope. You can heal. You can recover. You can move from being a victim to being a survivor to thriving in your life.
There are a few things I want to say to you. First, you’re not weak. The fact that you are here reading this now is a testimony to your strength. You have figured out a way to make it this far. Second, you are not broken. Someone chose to do harm to you. At some point along the way, you may have decided you’re just “messed up.” That’s not the case. The problems you are having are normal for what you’ve been through. Finally, I want to tell you that you can heal. I don’t mean just get by – I mean healing. You can overcome these problems.
To overcome these problems, you may need to see a counselor. You may need to increase your support system. It might require you to do some things that are uncomfortable for you. What it will require is change. It will require you to do some things you haven’t done. Try some things you haven’t tried. Think in some ways you haven’t thought. Change is hard. But change is possible. You can recover. You can overcome. You can heal.
If you know some adults molested as children, take a moment and forward them the link. Encourage them and let them know they can heal from the abuse done to them.