Common Symptoms Associated With Childhood Sexual Abuse

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Dysfunctional Relationship Patterns: These can take many forms. Patterns commonly seen are relationships organized around fears of intimacy in which emotional closeness is avoided; co-dependent relationships – one partner engages in excessive care giving behaviors at the expense of self-care; a tendency to get non-sexual needs met in sexual ways; difficulty managing emotional closeness and a sexual relationship with the same person.

Sexual Dysfunction: This includes sexual addiction; performance difficulties; intrusion of the sexual abuse in current sexual relationships; involvement in repetition of abuse experiences.

Shame and Guilt: A feeling of being intrinsically bad as a result of abuse and a sense of personal responsibility (this is especially true when certain aspects of the abuse were experienced in a pleasurable way) which is quite common.

Low Self Esteem: Feelings of worthlessness; alienation from others; "damaged-goods" syndrome.

Control Issues: This is often experienced as a kind of vigilance and guardedness – a need to be in charge, an avoidance of vulnerability (interferes with the development of intimacy). Control issues can also be manifested in an excessive relinquishing of control and domination by others.

Depression: Typical manifestations include sad mood; decreased energy; interest and motivation; disturbance of sleep, appetite and weight; feelings of hopelessness and helplessness; anhedonia (inability to experience pleasure); and suicidal thoughts and feelings.

Mistrust: A pervasive questioning of the motivations of others or tendency to trust too easily.