Lingering Effects Of Sexual Abuse

Much has been written about the long-term effects of childhood sexual abuse. The most obvious effect is psychological harm, including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, behavioral problems (such as sexualized behavior), poor self-esteem, academic problems and suicide. Victims may also have higher future health care costs when they start to deal with these issues.

Long-term psychiatric and psychological care is expensive and may not be covered by insurance. At Abramson Smith Waldsmith LLP, our lawyers have the experience, the reputation and the results to obtain compensation to provide for needed psychological evaluation, care and treatment. This can provide you with the time to deal with what happened.

What Are The Long-Term Effects Of Childhood Sexual Abuse?

Among the life-changing, long-term effects of sexual abuse reported by adult survivors are both the logical as well as the unexpectedly dramatic negative additions to a victim's personality and physical makeup. These effects include:

  • One-third of abused children will eventually victimize their own children.
  • Eighty percent of abused children meet the diagnostic criteria for at least one psychiatric disorder at age 21 (including anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and eating disorders).
  • Abused children are 25 percent more likely to experience teen pregnancy.
  • Abused teens are three times less likely to practice safe sex.
  • Approximately 14 percent of imprisoned men in the United States were abused as children.
  • Almost 37 percent of imprisoned women were abused as children.
  • Children who have been sexually abused are 2½ times more likely to develop alcohol abuse and almost four times more likely to develop drug addictions.

[See Administration for Children & Families of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, "Child Maltreatment Report, 2003; National Institute on Drug Abuse 2000 Report.]

Counseling and therapy are the best ways to mitigate the long-term effects of sexual abuse. Unfortunately, health insurance generally limits the amount of therapy it will cover and victims must bear the costs of extensive treatment. Because many victims cannot afford to pay the high costs of the necessary therapy and simply do not receive all the treatment they need, the long-term effects of sexual abuse are more pronounced.

It is important to recover the costs of necessary treatment from the perpetrator or the organization that enabled the perpetrator to have access to vulnerable victims to ensure that resources are available to the victim to cope over time with the devastating effects of sexual abuse. To recover these costs, it is important to act quickly to preserve the evidence needed to prove a sexual abuse case. Witnesses, documents and scientific evidence (e.g., DNA) tend to disappear relatively fast in these cases.

Certainly, it is stressful for a child to go through a civil lawsuit to attempt to recover monetary damages for current and future psychological and psychiatric treatment. A parent must balance this against the likely long-term effects of future stress if the family does not have the resources to provide appropriate treatment. It is often wise to discuss these issues with a family physician or counselor and a lawyer who specializes in this type of work.

The privacy of the victim is paramount, and in civil cases seeking monetary damages, the victim's identity is protected because the case is brought by a parent or guardian using a fictitious name (e.g., John or Jane Doe) for the victim. Most of these cases do not proceed to trial and when they are settled, the victim's privacy also is maintained. The goal is maximizing monetary recovery for the victim while minimizing the impact of having to bring a civil lawsuit.

Contact Us

The effects of sexual abuse on a child, adult or disabled person can be traumatic and last a lifetime. If someone you know is suffering any or all of these long-term effects of abuse, are present in someone you know, we can recommend various treatment resources that could help.

Reach out to our San Francisco law firm to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys at the first sign of sexual abuse or as the memories return, we can help.