A huge focus has been placed on mental health in recent years. And since March of 2020, after so many of us experienced isolation from friends and family due to the pandemic, even more reports of adverse mental health began to rise to the surface.
Today we have some of the greatest technology to assist with mental health issues, even services known as telehealth have been established in order to diagnose patients remotely. But even with our advances in technology, mental health issues remain difficult to predict or prevent.
One battle with mental health that is seemingly unavoidable in many cases occurs after an individual has suffered sexual abuse.
Sexual abuse can cause a host of mental health problems in both men and women, and though some of these issues are treatable, their repercussions can last a lifetime.
In this post, we’ll explore a few of the mental health battles that are common in victims of sexual abuse.
Withdrawal and Isolation
One of the more common indicators of sexual abuse is when a victim withdraws from social functions and venues or chooses to isolate themselves away from people, even close friends and family.
Isolation and withdrawal are common immediately after an act of abuse, and this can also be accompanied by depression and odd behavior.
For example, if sexual abuse happens at the hands of church clergy, a victim may never return to their place of worship. In fact, this is actually one of the more common acts of sexual abuse and has gained attention across the world due to the numerous reports of sexual abuse by church clergy.
Withdrawal can also occur if the abuse happens at a school, at work, or during an extracurricular activity such as with team sports.
Disruptive Social Behavior
Perhaps one of the least understood mental health issues that develop after an incident of sexual abuse is the development of odd social behavior that can occur.
Indications of disruptive social behavior are when a person suddenly changes their demeanor entirely. Or their personality undergoes a drastic shift.
For example, an introvert might suddenly begin displaying extraverted tendencies. Or a once charismatic individual might all of a sudden appear shy around others. In the most extreme cases, some individuals lash out in erratic ways and begin displaying disruptive behavior that might appear reckless, or even self-endangering.
In severe cases, a victim of sexual abuse might intentionally cause themselves bodily harm and think nothing of it.
All of these types of disruptive or anti-social behaviors are thought by psychologists to be coping mechanisms that allow the mind to deal with a traumatic event or a loss of autonomy.
Difficulty with Relationships
Victims of sexual abuse, particularly those who have had to endure the trauma of consistent sexual abuse over the course of their childhood or adolescence, often have difficulty with maintaining relationships.
Whether these relationships are of an intimate, romantic nature, or if they’re familial relations matters little. A victim of sexual abuse often develops trust and intimacy issues due to ongoing sexual abuse.
When a person’s autonomy is taken from them, or if they’ve felt trapped in an abusive situation, this can alter one’s mindset when it comes to developing and keeping any type of relationship. A victim of abuse might even develop a fear of abandonment or become apathetic toward relationships entirely.
Perhaps the most difficult mental health issue that involves relationships is the ability to develop trust in another person. This can be a friendship or a partnership of any kind. Essentially, a victim may never be able to fully trust another human being as a direct result of sexual abuse.
Sexual abuse is perhaps the worst type of abuse and can cause the most debilitating mental health conditions. In fact, it’s not uncommon for victims of sexual abuse to become dysfunctional members of society.
If you or anyone you know has suffered from sexual abuse, seek counseling immediately and report the act to the proper authorities.