the causes and consequences of child sexual abuse, drawing on psychological
theory and evidence.
Child sexual abuse or
child molestation is a form of child abuse where an adult involves a child with
or without his/her own will in a form of sexual act for the fulfilment of that
adult’s sexual desire. According to NSPCC, when a child is forced or persuaded
to take part in a sexual act with an adult, is defined as child sexual abuse or
child abuse. There are different types of child sexual abuse. Such as:
Contact abuse that
Coercing or encouraging a child to take
part in sexual activity and rape or penetration by putting an object or body
part in a child’s mouth, vagina or anus
Making a child take their clothes off,
touch someone else’s genital or masturbate as well as touching a child for
sexual intent whether the child is wearing clothes or not
Non-contact abuse that
Asking or encouraging a child to watch or
hear sexual acts (i.e. showing pornography to a child)
Child sexual grooming along with the intent
of abusing them
Online abusing which includes making,
viewing and distributing child abuse images or videos or allowing someone to do
the aforesaid things
of child sexual abuse (psychological):
More than a decade, child
sexual abuse is openly regarded as cause of mental health problems in adult
life and branded widely as paedophilia. The history of child sexual abuse has been
found related with problems with sexual adjustment in adult life. (Herman 1981; Finkelhor 1979). Finkelhor
(1984) described that reduced sexual esteem in men and women possibly causes
child sexual abuse. In a successive study, Finkelhor et al. (1989) discovered
that women who reported child sexual abuse involving intercourse had unsatisfactory
adult sexual relationships.
In many studies, it has
been found that around 90% of the total victims of child abuse reported that,
mostly closely related people i.e. relatives, parents friends and sometime even
parents are the abusers. Rest 10% victims fall in the hand of outside
paedophiles. Interestingly, among all paedophiles, around 85% of them are men.
There is no doubt about that;
paedophilia is a mental disease where a full grown human being is sexually
attracted to children or teenagers particularly children who reached at the puberty
stage. The major reason is sexual deprivation in different ways. For example in
churches or in madrassas small children are the victim of paedophilia that is
done by priests, teachers of clergy. Suppression of sexual desire most of the
times vent out through child sexual abuse. But generally, the psychological causes
of child sexual abuse is debatable however there are some evidences that paedophilia
may run in families, but not sure that staunch from learned behaviour or
A history of childhood
sexual abuse is also deemed as a paramount factor for paedophilia but not
proven yet. Moreover, other factors, like male sexual hormone or the brain
chemical reaction sometimes causes paedophilia though not proven yet. Behavioural
learning model suggests that, children who are the victims or observers of inappropriate
sexual behaviours learn to replicate and later deploy the inappropriate behaviour.
According to American
Psychiatric Association in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, DSM-IV-TR, the following features a person must have to:
Be sexually aroused by, have intense, recurring sexual fantasies
of, or be involved in sexual behaviour with a prepubescent child or
children (generally 13 years or younger);
Be aroused by, have sexual fantasies of, or be involved with a
child for at least six months.
Be at least 16 years old, and
Be at least five years older than the child or children he or she
is attracted to.
Consequence of Child sexual abuse
Horror – Most of the times
the molester may swear the child to secrecy
and say that if the child reveals the incident to anyone, something bad
will happen to the child. Coercion, bribery or threats are the parts of child
sexual abuse. As a result, the child is scared of the consequences showed
by the paedophile which might be. e.g. punishment, blame, abandonment or
not being believed.
Vulnerability – The victims of
child sexual abuse often
feel that they have no control over their own lives or even over their own
bodies. Moreover, they feel that they have no choices available to them.
Culpability and humiliation – The victim child knows something has gone wrong and instead of
blame the offender, blames him or herself. The offender will often
encourage the child to feel that the abuse is his or her fault and
sometimes s/he will feel that s/he is a “bad” person.
Accountability – The offender often makes the child feel responsible for keeping
the abuse a secret. Sometimes the child also feels responsible for keeping
the family together and the burden of this responsibility interferes with
experiencing a normal childhood.
Remoteness – Child sexual abuse victims (incest) feel different from other
children. They usually be secretive hence this keeps them isolated them
from non-offending parents and brothers and sisters.
Disloyalty – The feeling of betrayal is very tough for a child. Children
feel betrayed because they are dependent upon adults for nurturing and
protection and the offender is someone who they should be able to love and
trust. Victims may also feel betrayed by a non-offending parent who they
feel has failed to protect them.
Fury – Children may feel anger against the perpetrator and also
against others who they feel failed to protect them. This often causes
tension in family and sometimes consequence reach up-to killing the perpetrator
of child sexual abuse.
Depression – Children may feel grief due to a sense of loss,
especially if the perpetrator was loved and trusted by the child.
Flashbacks – These can be like nightmares which happen while the child
is awake. They are a re-experience of the sexual assault and the child may
experience all the feelings a gain which they felt at the time.