The Consequences of Child Sexual Abuse on the Behavioral Patterns in Adulthood

Table of Contents


Most people who were sexually abused in childhood develop severe personality disturbances in adulthood. Such a psychological myth implies that child sexual abuse (CSA) has acute trauma outcomes within the behavioral patterns in one’s adulthood. It is a significant governmental concern that affects any family and country and should be addressed on the international level. Therefore, the CSA research is a critical issue to consider in terms of the children’s cognitive views and developing beliefs, as well as abuse-related behaviors that lead to pervasive, intense psychological damage for both genders.

The Origins of the Trauma Myth

CSA is identified as the deliberate violation of an underage child and highlights the critical aspect of age. According to Rind & Tromovitch (1997), the CSA background refers to the “development of serious impairment in daily performance and severe psychiatric and medical disorders,” which is based on the numerous empirical investigations (p. 238). As such, this public concern is identified with a broad set of psychological problems, such as anger, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, alcohol and drug abuse, low self-esteem, relationship difficulties, and posttraumatic stress disorder, among others. It is also important to note that experiences of underage boys and girls are equal with regard to prevalence and level of harm.

Literature Research on the CSA

Most of the literature review asserted that child sexual abuse causes such severe problems, which emerge pervasively among those who experienced CSA. There are four essential implications of child sexual abuse designed by Rind & Tromovitch (1997). They include causality, pervasiveness, the intensity of harm, and the equivalence of male and female CSA experiences. Their research is based on previous literature reviews and suggests that harmful outcomes of CSA are pervasive and intense in the population with this experience.

Deblinger et al. (2015) state that even non-threatening abuse-related cues that provoke CSA-related memories can be associated with “anxiety, fear, anger, shame, or distressing emotions” (p. 22). Furthermore, the experience of severe or intense harm is expected to remain in adulthood; however, it was not reported by most of the respondents in Rind & Tromovitch’s national sample (1997). Such self-reports contradict the common implication of intense damage caused by CSA in the typical case.

Another research conducted by Saldanha et al. (2016) state that CSA might provoke some specific BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) symptoms in adulthood. The discovery of CSA victims is a complex task due to secrecy, stigma, and shame that are inherently linked with the incidence. The study proves that those who experience CSA tend to address the symptoms of “identity disturbances, recurrent suicidal or self-harm behavior, and stress-related paranoid or dissociative symptoms” (Saldanha et al., 2016, p. 105).

Selmini (2016) provides four critical sources of CSA data, including “data from official crime statistics; data from public health systems; data from victimization surveys; and meta-analyses of empirical research at a cross-national level” (p. 832). Considering the international reports, CSA is a highly severe issue in Central and South America because of the social, cultural, and economic conditions of urban deprived areas.

Conclusion: Validity of the Myth

The child sexual abuse remains one of the most intimidating and stigmatizing traumas for many children and families that are overcoming the acute psychological outcomes in both childhood and adulthood. Such a concern is enhanced by the social change and global social problems that as well affect the cause of CSA. The following research highlighted the core factors that prove the persistence of severe behavioral patterns in adulthood, even within a non-threatening abuse-related environment that provokes CSA-related memories and thoughts.


Deblinger, E., Mannarino, A., Cohen, J., Runyon, M., & Heflin, A. (2015). Child sexual abuse: A primer for treating children, adolescents, and their nonoffending parents (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Rind, B., & Tromovitch, P. (1997). A meta‐analytic review of findings from national samples on psychological correlates of child sexual abuse. Journal of Sex Research, 34(3), 237-255. Web.

Saldanha, D., Menon, P., Chaudhari, B., Devabhaktuni, S., & Bhattacharya, L. (2016). Childhood sexual abuse in adult patients with borderline personality disorder. Industrial Psychiatry Journal, 25(1), 101-106. Web.

Selmini, R. (2016). Sexual abuse of children in comparative and international perspective. In H. Kury, S. Redo & E. Shea (Eds.), Women and children as victims and offenders: Background, prevention, reintegration (pp. 821–855). Switzerland: Springer International Publishing.

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