(an encore post by Cecil Murphey)
The impact of sexual abuse can be devastating and it is long lasting. Because you were a child, and you were victimized by someone—and most of the time it was someone you trusted.
The first thing you need to know is this: The sexual abuse was not your fault. You may even be told that you did something wrong, but that person lied. You were a victim; you were an innocent child.
Most of the adult survivors with whom I've talked told me that they grew up feeling something was wrong with them. They believed they caused the abuse and blamed themselves.
You may have tried to talk about the molestation and no one listened. Until recent years, too many adults refused to acknowledge that such things occurred. If that happened to you, you have probably felt inadequate, embarrassed, isolated, guilty, shameful, and powerless. Then you probably reacted by suppressing this as a shameful secret.
For example, I was once involved with a men's group. One member, Greg, said that when he was seven, he wanted to tell his mother that his own father was sexually abusing him. One night at dinner, he said, "Daddy has been pulling down my pants and doing bad things to me."
"Eat your dinner," his mother said.
His two siblings said nothing; Dad continued to eat. That was the last time Greg opened his mouth about his abuse until he was thirty-one years old. That's when he joined a group of survivors of male sexual assault.
Research now affirms the link between the abuse and the effects. Each of us needs to be able to admit that the long-term effects are powerful and include poor self-esteem, difficulty trusting others, anxiety, feelings of isolation, self-injury and self-mutilation, eating disorders, sleep problems, depression, self-destructive tendencies, sexual maladjustment, and substance abuse.