A review of the long-term effects of child sexual abuse
The existing literature on the long-term sequelae of child sexual abuse is reviewed. The evidence suggests that sexual abuse is an important problem with serious long-term sequelae; but the specific effects of sexual abuse, independent of force, threat of force, or such family variables as parental psychopathology, are still to be clarified. Adult women with a history of childhood sexual abuse show greater evidence of sexual disturbance or dysfunction, homosexual experiences in adolescence or adulthood, depression, and are more likely than nonabused women to be revictimized. Anxiety, fear, and suicidal ideas and behavior have also been associated with a history of childhood sexual abuse but force and threat of force may be a necessary concomitant. As yet, there is insufficient evidence to confirm a relation between a history of childhood sexual abuse and a postsexual abuse syndrome and multiple or borderline personality disorder. Male victims of child sexual abuse show disturbed adult sexual functioning. The relation between age of onset of abuse and outcome is still equivocal. Greater long-term harm is associated with abuse involving a father or stepfather and abuse involving penetration. Longer duration is associated with greater impact, and the use of force or threat of force is associated with greater harm.
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