The Effects of Sexual Abuse Presentation

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Slide 2 Notes

In 2001 alone 225,320 women were victims of sexual assault in the United States (Rathus, Nevid, & Fichner-Rathus, 2005). In the same year a total of 76,850 women and 6,770 men reported being raped. It is also estimated that about 25% of boys and 18% of girls are sexual abused some time during their childhood years. These figures do not account for unreported cases of rape and childhood sexual abuse, so the actual prevalence of these types of crime could be much higher. Nonetheless, the existing data serves to highlight the fact that sexual assaults of all kinds are extremely widespread within the American society. In fact, it is estimated that, on average, the rape of a woman is reported every 7 minutes. With such extensive reporting of sexual assaults it might be advantageous to examine the short-term and long-term effects that rape and childhood sexual abuse have on an individual.

Slide 3 Notes

Most of us, myself included, have always thought of rape as an assault on a woman by a stranger. In reality though rape occurs most frequently at the hands of someone we love or know very well (Rathus, Nevid, J.S., & Fichner-Rathus, 2005). One possible hypothesis for this situation is the prevalence of date rape, somewhere between 10% and 20% for women. At any rate, the physical, emotion, and psychological effects of rape are varied and most serious for those victims who blame themselves for the episode. Common short-term, physical effects of rape include headaches, cystitis, and menstrual irregularity. The long-term effects can be even worse and may include sexually transmitted diseases and physical injuries. However, the greatest damage caused during a rape is more often than not psychological. Short-term psychological effects of rape are irritability, mood changes, guilt, shame, anxiety, and even depression. Studies show that emotional stress peaks at about the 3rd week and begins to taper off after the first or second month. The long-term effects on the other hand can be much more devastated. At the least a drop in sexual arousal can be expected or even fears of sexual intercourse. A problem relating to men in supervisor positions can become troublesome and mistrust of men is not uncommon. One severe reaction to rape can include Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This disorder is characterized by flashbacks of the episode, a restricted range of emotions, and heightened body arousal. Also a fear of the situation in which the person was assaulted might develop over the long-term.     

Slide 4 Notes

The effects of rape can be devastating and long-term; however, the effects of childhood sexual abuse can predispose a child to an adult life of anxiety and sexual dysfunction (Rathus, Nevid, & Fichner-Rathus, 2005). One odd occurrence concerning childhood sexual abuse is the tendency for parents to only report abuse at the hands of acquaintances and strangers but not family. This is due in part to the embarrassment that might accompany such a confession and the perceived blame that might be place on the one confessing. In any event, some of the physical effects of sexual abuse might include genital injuries and psychosomatic problems like headaches and stomachaches. The psychological effects of childhood sexual abuse are more extensive and can include self-doubt, self-destructive behavior, eating disorders, inappropriate sexual promiscuity, and even the aforementioned post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). There is even research that substantiates that childhood sexual abuse can, “…promote a bodily reactivity to stress that endures well into adulthood…” (Rathus, Nevid, & Fichner-Rathus, 2005, p. 626). It is common for adolescent victims of childhood sexual abuse to “act out” in ways that might include, in younger children, tantrums and displays of aggression and in older children substance abuse. Some regressive behaviors such as fear of the dark and thumb sucking have also been observed in victims of childhood sexual abuse. Research has also found that sexual intercourse occurs earlier in adolescents who have been sexually abused as children.

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Slide 5 Notes

In conclusion, the short-term and long-term effects of both rape and childhood sexual abuse can be devastating, and in light of the before-mentioned prevalence of said incidents the effects should be even more distressing. Furthermore, after examining the effects of these crimes on individuals it should be clear that the consequences are both far-reaching and life-altering at times.


Rathus, S.A., Nevid, J.S., and Fichner-Rathus, L. (2005). Human sexuality in a world of diversity. (6th ed.) Boston, MA:   Allyn and Bacon.

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