Child sexual abuse is widely regarded as a cause of mental health problems in adult life. This article examines the impact of child sexual abuse on social, sexual and interpersonal functioning, and its potential role in mediating the more widely recognised impacts on mental health. In discussing the relationship between child sexual abuse and adult psychopathology, the authors evaluate a number of models, including the post-traumatic stress disorder model, the traumatogenic model, and developmental and social models. They look at family risk factors which predispose children from specific population groups to be at greater risk of abuse, and conclude that the fundamental damage caused by child sexual abuse impacts on the child’s developing capacities for trust, intimacy, agency and sexuality.
In little over a decade, child sexual abuse has come to be widely regarded as a cause of mental health problems in adult life. The influences of child sexual abuse on interpersonal, social and sexual functioning in adult life and its possible role in mediating some, if not all, of the deleterious effects on mental health, has attracted less attention and research, but is arguably equally important. For this reason, and because the mental health aspects have been so much more widely canvassed and ably reviewed (Tomison 1996), this review will emphasise the impact of child sexual abuse on social and interpersonal functioning, and its potential role in mediating the more widely recognised impacts on mental health.
Long-term Effects of Child Sexual Abuse
by Paul E. Mullen and Jillian Fleming