Sexual abuse is unwanted sexual activity, with perpetrators using force, making threats or taking advantage of victims not able to give consent. Most victims and perpetrators know each other. Immediate reactions to sexual abuse include shock, fear or disbelief. Long-term symptoms include anxiety, fear or post-traumatic stress disorder. While efforts to treat sex offenders remain unpromising, psychological interventions for survivors — especially group therapy — appears effective.
Adapted from the Encyclopedia of Psychology
What You Can Do
- Open Up! Writing About Trauma Reduces Stress, Aids Immunity
Writing about difficult, even traumatic, experiences appears to be good for health on several levels - raising immunity and other health measures and improving life functioning.
- Managing traumatic stress: Tips for recovering from disasters and other traumatic events
Understanding the emotions and normal responses that follow a disaster or other traumatic event can help you cope with your feelings, thoughts and behaviors – and can help you on the path to recovery.
- Understanding Child Sexual Abuse
Children and adolescents who have been sexually abused can suffer a range of psychological and behavioral problems, from mild to severe, in both the short and long term. Counseling and support services are important for both the children affected and the caregivers responsible for the abused children.
- Child sexual abuse: What parents should know
Information for parents and caretakers on the warning signs and treatment options for child sexual abuse.
- Find a Psychologist
- The Effects of Trauma Do Not Have to Last a Lifetime
Most people will experience a trauma at some point in their lives, and as a result, some will experience debilitating symptoms that interfere with daily life. The good news is that psychological interventions are effective in preventing many long-term effects.
New figures show sexual assault in the U.S. military is on the rise
May 7, 2013, CBS News
Healing process after rape never ends
March 20, 2013, CNN
Military sexual assault victims testify before Congress
March 13, 2013, CBS News
Monitor on Psychology Articles
- Rape takes global toll on women's lives, study finds
- More support needed for trauma intervention
- ‘I swore I’d never tell’
- Porn use and child abuse