The Legacy of Sexual Abuse

Written by Margaret Paul, Ph.D.

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Title: The Legacy of Sexual Abuse Author: Margaret Paul, Ph.D. E-mail: Copyright: © 2004 by Margaret Paul URL: Word Count: 837 Category: Emotional Healing

The Legacy of Sexual Abuse Margaret Paul, Ph.D.

Duringrepparttar 126133 many years I've been counseling people, Iíve worked with many people who were sexually abused as children. Some of them remember it all their lives, while others repressed it and remember it only as adults. In either case,repparttar 126134 resulting harm exists on many levels.


If a child was violently abused,repparttar 126135 physical pain may have been so intense as to causerepparttar 126136 person to not be able to function in a normal way sexually as an adult. The fear of penetration or of oral sex may causerepparttar 126137 person to avoid sex entirely, or to be too tense to actually enjoy sex.

However, even ifrepparttar 126138 abuse was not violent and physical harmful,repparttar 126139 physical harm can be deep. A childís body is not big enough to handlerepparttar 126140 intense feelings of sexual arousal. When a child is sexually activated at a young age,repparttar 126141 child may be so overwhelmed withrepparttar 126142 feelings that he or she ends up constantly masturbating to find some relief. Incessant masturbation is one ofrepparttar 126143 symptoms of sexual abuse. As an adult, this could translate into various forms sexual addiction.


The harm done onrepparttar 126144 emotional level is extensive. Sexual abuse is a deep form of violation, and invariably leads torepparttar 126145 child feeling objectified. The child comes to see herself or himself as an object to be used rather than as a person deserving of caring. This objectification ofrepparttar 126146 self can lead to promiscuity at a young age, or to other forms of being used and abused.

One ofrepparttar 126147 deepest levels of harm is thatrepparttar 126148 child tends to absorbrepparttar 126149 darkness ofrepparttar 126150 abuser. The child, not knowing that he or she is not causingrepparttar 126151 abuser to be abusive, takes onrepparttar 126152 shame ofrepparttar 126153 abuser. It is as ifrepparttar 126154 darkness ofrepparttar 126155 abuser goes right intorepparttar 126156 child. As a result,repparttar 126157 abused person grows up with a feeling of being a very bad person, with a huge ball of darkness within. Most survivors of childhood sexual abuse need to go through a process of realizing that this darkness does not belong to them and releasing it.

Children who have been sexually abused generally absorb many false beliefs about themselves that can plague them throughout their adult life - beliefs such as:


Written by Pauline Wallin, Ph.D.

If youíre like most people, you probably said to yourself at least once during your childhood or teens: ďIím never going to behave like my mother (or father) when I grow up.Ē Such thoughts would enter your mind especially when your parent treated you in a harsh manner, embarrassed you, or ignored you.

And now you may find yourself behaving inrepparttar same bratty way toward others. How could this happen? Much to our chagrin, it's quite common to have some ofrepparttar 126131 same negative traits as our parents, despite our best intentions to avoid them.

Some people attribute these similarities to their heritage: "I'm Italian," they'll say, or "I've inherited my father's German stubborn streak." Others claim that all these behaviors are just learned -- if you hang out with screamers, you're going to be loud yourself. If your family doesnít hug one another, youíre not going to be very affectionate either.

Itís true that environment does shape our personalities to some extent. Culture and family life certainly affect how we behave. Kids imitate what they see and respond to what theyíre rewarded for. For example, parents who value education and praise good grades typically have children who are better students, regardless of IQ levels.

But environment doesnít explain everything. Despite parentsí efforts to raise responsible, conscientious citizens, some children will not turn out that way. Similarly, it is not unusual to see well-adjusted individuals who come from a highly dysfunctional family.

Research on twins has shed light onrepparttar 126132 role of environment vs heredity in determining personality. Each set of twins raised together drinkrepparttar 126133 same water, eatrepparttar 126134 same foods and watchrepparttar 126135 same TV shows. They go torepparttar 126136 same schools, knowrepparttar 126137 same peers and experiencerepparttar 126138 same discipline style from their parents. In other words, all twins (who are raised together) sharerepparttar 126139 same environment.

If environment isrepparttar 126140 key to personality then we would expect identical twins to be no more similar to one another than fraternal twins. But thatís notrepparttar 126141 case. Research has shown that identical twins (who have exactlyrepparttar 126142 same genes) are more similar to one another on many personality dimensions than are fraternal twins (who share only 50% ofrepparttar 126143 same genes.)

Whatís more, identical twins who were adopted by different families are more similar in personality to one another than torepparttar 126144 separate adoptive families in which they grew up!

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