Learn the Facts About Child Sexual Abuse

1 in 4 girls is sexually abused before age 181. That’s an estimated 42 million women2 in the United States alone who are survivors of child sexual abuse.

Whether you’re a survivor looking for ways to heal, or you know a survivor and are looking to offer support, educating yourself is the first step on the path to healing.

What is Child Sexual Abuse?

Child sexual abuse is when another person (adult, sibling, peer, etc.) forces or coerces a child or teen into sexual activity—physically or non-physically. Physical sexual activity may include fondling genitals, masturbation, oral-genital contact, digital penetration, vaginal intercourse, or anal intercourse.

Non-physical sexual activities are considered sexual abuse because they exploit innocent children and can lead to the same long-term trauma as physical sexual abuse. Non-physical sexual activities may include unhealthy sexual exposure, voyeurism, or sexually explicit imagery (including child pornography).

How Does Child Sexual Abuse Impact Survivors?

The trauma of child sexual abuse affects survivors long after the abuse has stopped. In fact, survivors often spend years, or even decades, trying to overcome the trauma symptoms that arise as they carry the weight of the abuse.

The trauma symptoms survivors might experience are far-reaching and can create major challenges for survivors as they try to move forward in life. For example:

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    Secrets

    Most survivors keep the abuse a secret for many years, and most don’t talk about the abuse until adulthood.3

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    Difficulty in School

    Child sexual abuse can increase the risk of low social competence, low learning competence, academic performance, and educational attainment. As a result, high school dropout rates may increase as much as 40% for survivors.4

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    Health Challenges

    Survivors are 5 times5 more likely than the general population to be hospitalized for a physical or mental health problem.

    Survivors are 3 times6 more likely than the general population to attempt suicide. And as survivors age, the risk of suicide attempts increases.

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    Substance Abuse

    Child sexual abuse can increase the risk of alcohol and/or illicit substance abuse. One study found that by age 30, 20% of survivors4 had developed an alcohol dependency, twice the rate of those who had not been abused.

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    Unhealthy Relationships

    Survivors are more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior, as well as unhealthy romantic relationships. Survivors are also at higher risk of sexual aggression victimization or perpetration.7

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    Eating Disorders

    Survivors often struggle with self-image and are at a higher risk of developing eating disorders or unhealthy relationships with food. One study found that by young adulthood, 42% of survivors4 were classified as obese, compared to 28% of those who had not been abused.

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    Secrets

    Most survivors keep the abuse a secret for many years, and most don’t talk about the abuse until adulthood.3

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    Difficulty in School

    Child sexual abuse can increase the risk of low social competence, low learning competence, academic performance, and educational attainment. As a result, high school dropout rates may increase as much as 40% for survivors.4

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    Health Challenges

    Survivors are 5 times5 more likely than the general population to be hospitalized for a physical or mental health problem.

    Survivors are 3 times6 more likely than the general population to attempt suicide. And as survivors age, the risk of suicide attempts increases.

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    Substance Abuse

    Child sexual abuse can increase the risk of alcohol and/or illicit substance abuse. One study found that by age 30, 20% of survivors4 had developed an alcohol dependency, twice the rate of those who had not been abused.

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    Unhealthy Relationships

    Survivors are more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior, as well as unhealthy romantic relationships. Survivors are also at higher risk of sexual aggression victimization or perpetration.7

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    Eating Disorders

    Survivors often struggle with self-image and are at a higher risk of developing eating disorders or unhealthy relationships with food. One study found that by young adulthood, 42% of survivors4 were classified as obese, compared to 28% of those who had not been abused.

There Is Hope After Child Sexual Abuse

We want survivors to know: You are not alone. Hope and healing are possible. Your brain is malleable and can learn how to heal.
At The Younique Foundation, we believe that in order to achieve lasting healing, survivors must address the underlying trauma causing them pain. It takes time, but with the right resources survivors can learn to redirect unhelpful thoughts, develop self-compassion and understanding, and thrive.

We have resources that can help you heal. We offer a range of healing services and resources, including The Haven Retreat, Finding Hope Support Groups, online healing resources, and a safe place for a community of survivors to support each other.

Together we can reclaim hope.

The Haven Retreat

4-day retreat for adult female survivors of child sexual abuse.

Support Groups

Finding Hope Support Groups can help you heal with other survivors in your community.

Healing Resources

Explore our resources to help you or your loved one heal from trauma.
References:
1. Felitti, V. J., Anda, R. F., Nordenberg, D., Williamson, D. F., Spitz, A. M., Edwards, V., . . . Marks, J. S. (1998). Relationship of Childhood Abuse and Household Dysfunction to Many of the Leading Causes of Death in Adults. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 14(4), 245-258.
3. Canadian Centre for Child Protection. Child Sexual Abuse: It Is Your Business.
4. Fergusson, D. M., McLeod, G. F. H., & Horwood, L. J. (2013). Childhood sexual abuse and adult developmental outcomes: Findings from a 30-year longitudinal study in New Zealand. Child Abuse & Neglect, 37(9), 664-674.
5. Daigneault, I., Esposito, T., Bourgeois, C., Hébert, M., Delaye, A., & Frappier, J.-Y. (2017). Health Service Use of Sexually Abused Adolescents Aging Out of Care: A Matched-Cohort Study. International Journal of Child and Adolescent Resilience (IJCAR), 5(1), 53-66.
6. Angelakis, I., Gillespie, E. L., & Panagioti, M. (2019). Childhood maltreatment and adult suicidality: A comprehensive systematic review with meta-analysis. Psychological Medicine, 49(07), 1057-1078.

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