Focus on child sexual abuse needs to include mental health services for survivors

Categories: News and Events, Other, Our Perspective

Excerpt from article by Clare Allan for The Guardian

There is a sense of national outrage at the seemingly endless stream of revelations concerning the sexual abuse of children by people in the public eye. While such outrage is understandable, I can’t help being struck by the simultaneous lack of concern about the cuts to the services and support many survivors of sexual abuse depend on.

Around half of people using mental health services report histories of sexual and/or physical abuse and there is masses of research demonstrating the fact that those who have experienced childhood abuse show a greatly increased risk of developing depression, severe anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, drug and alcohol problems, eating disorders, various personality disorders and problems with self-harm. Survivors of childhood sexual abuse very often suffer from feelings of guilt, responsibility and powerlessness and may struggle with interpersonal relationships.

None of which is surprising. But neither does it have to be an inevitable life sentence. With the media focus firmly on celebrity perpetrators, we hear very little of survivors of abuse, other than that their lives have been “ruined” as a consequence of what happened. An expression I loathe precisely because it suggests that there’s nothing to be done for them. It seems almost to justify our turning away. Their lives are ruined. End of.

But we know that with appropriate and timely intervention, people can be helped enormously to overcome the legacy of childhood abuse. So it seems deeply ironic, to say the least, that this moment of national outrage at the damage done to our children should coincide with the decimation of the mental health services they need to recover.

There is nothing wrong with being outraged at the sexual abuse of children, or at the way those meant to protect them, children’s homes, hospitals, schools, and so on, failed them and let them down. A public inquiry is important and welcome. But in confining our outrage to the past and ignoring the needs of the present, we are letting survivors down all over again.


Societies worldwide are coming to recognize that the trauma caused by child sexual abuse is immediate, diverse, and can follow victims into adulthood.

We also know that with proper intervention and treatment, these consequences can be avoided. Many survivors are able to find healing with the support of child advocacy centers, families, and mental health professionals. Intervention and treatment are both part of reacting responsibly to child sexual abuse. To successfully use all we’ve learned to create healthy societies that protect children, we need to realize that topics such as mental health are not separate discussions, but part of the same conversation.

Read the entire article here.

2 responses to “Focus on child sexual abuse needs to include mental health services for survivors

  1. Child Sexual Abuse is the worst thing to happen. It takes away not just their innocence but also deprive them of the fun of growing up years. It affects them mentally and they live in a trauma, losing their zest for life. It really must be stop. Something must we done and we all must come together and do something about it before the society is full of sexually abused kids suffering from post–trauma – disorders that would ruin their life and lead to a doomed future of our world.

    I am doing by bit by trying to create awareness through my story and I hope many people reads and understands what they should do and not do to help prevent the little one’s life from getting ruined.

    A story on child sexual Abuse, deception and lies :

  2. This subject has been swept under the rug for ages. I’ve been told by a few uninformed people that, it’s just not something that has ever been an issue in there families. Thankfully so. But,if you’re someone with a child or grandchild of school age, there is the unfortunate possibility that they can be affected. As someone who has suffered abuse by a friend of the family, and who had remained silent about it well into my adulthood, I’m all for preventative measures. End the silence!

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