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Long-term Effects of Child Sexual Abuse

NCJ Number
Paul E. Mullen; Jillian Fleming
Date Published
24 pages
This article discusses the ways in which child sexual abuse affects social, sexual, and interpersonal functioning, as well as its’ effects on later adult psychopathology.
This article focuses mainly on the impact of child sexual abuse on social and interpersonal functioning, as these aspects have often been overlooked in past literature on the subject. The authors examine the impact of child sexual abuse on mental health problems in adults from the post-traumatic stress disorder model, the traumatogenic model, and developmental and social models. The authors then go on to examine family risk factors that contribute to the prevalence of child sexual abuse. They explain that child sexual abuse is not evenly distributed throughout the population. Rather, it tends to occur in families that are disorganized and socially deprived. The authors also point out that when sexual abuse of children is present, there also tends to be physical and emotional abuse occurring in the family as well. The article goes on to recount the fundamental damage caused to individuals who have been the victim of child sexual abuse, including a diminished capacity to trust, a lack of intimacy in later relationships, a tendency toward passivity, and problems concerning sexuality.