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The Long-Term Effects of Sexual Abuse 

Sexual abuse is a crime that is known for having profound and lasting effects on survivors. The heinous crime of sexual abuse or sexual assault can negatively impact a victim’s emotional, physical and psychological well-being. Sexual abuse can have long-term effects and consequences that a survivor may have to navigate far into the future.

Physical Harm

Sexual assault and abuse can cause physical injuries. This includes acute injuries from the act of assault; for example, if it was done with the use of force, weapons or restraints. It can also chronic illnesses and health conditions that arise afterward, such as complications from an eating disorder that a victim develops due to the trauma of sexual abuse.

Examples of physical harm associated with cases of sexual violence include:

  • Physical injuries
  • Genital injuries
  • Chronic pain
  • Headaches
  • Eating disorders
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Chronic illnesses
  • Sleep disorders
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Self-harm and suicidal tendencies

The trauma of living through something like sexual abuse, accompanied by lasting stress and anxiety, can manifest as one or more diagnosable health problems for a victim. Examples include chronic joint and muscle pain, chronic fatigue syndrome, and autoimmune disorders. These issues may need to be managed with prescription medications, medical treatments and counseling.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder 

Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a mental health condition that can arise in the days or weeks after a traumatic event such as sexual abuse and remain for many months. The symptoms of PTSD can include:

  • Flashbacks and triggers
  • Intrusive thoughts
  • Fear or anxiety
  • Nightmares and trouble sleeping
  • Dissociation or emotional numbness
  • Withdrawal or isolation

In some cases, PTSD is accompanied by chronic anxiety and/or long-term depression for a sexual abuse survivor. These mental health conditions can last substantially longer – oftentimes, for many years after the sexual assault.

Trouble Forming Relationships With Others

It is common for survivors of sexual abuse to have trouble forming bonds and romantic relationships with others. They often struggle with significant trust issues after being taken advantage of by a perpetrator. They may also have difficulty getting past feelings such as shame, guilt, self-blame and low self-esteem, which can interfere with their ability to get close to other people.

Substance Abuse Disorders 

Some sexual abuse and assault survivors turn to substances such as drugs and alcohol to cope with their trauma. This can lead to long-lasting substance abuse disorders, including addiction and withdrawal. A long-term drug or alcohol dependency can further complicate mental health issues as well as negatively impact a victim’s future and career opportunities.

Seeking Justice and Compensation for the Long-Term Effects of Sexual Abuse

A sexual abuse civil lawsuit can compensate a victim for the various short-term and long-term effects of this crime. This includes all medical care necessary to treat physical injuries and compensation for therapies or mental health counseling. Prescription medications, such as antidepressants, can also be included as a compensable damage in a lawsuit.

Survivors can seek compensation for noneconomic damages, or pain and suffering, in addition to their medical bills. This can cover all past and future estimated emotional distress, PTSD, psychological trauma, mental anguish, and lost quality or enjoyment of life suffered by the victim because of sexual abuse.

It is important to contact an attorney for assistance with a sexual assault or abuse claim to ensure you are fairly compensated as a survivor. A lawyer can calculate your long-term and future losses to seek a just amount in monetary damages from a perpetrator or institution. Contact The Mahoney Law Firm for a free and confidential case evaluation.