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What are the long-term effects of childhood sexual abuse?

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There are many variables that can affect how childhood sexual abuse may impact someone long-term. Some of these variables can include the nature of the abuse, the severity of the abuse, the number of abuse experiences and the age someone was when the abuse occurred. The survivor’s perspective and the support he or she receives following the abuse can also influence long-term effects.

The impact of childhood sexual abuse can vary greatly because every person is different, and every situation is different. However, there are some trends that have emerged.

Abuse can cause problems that last decades

According to the American Counseling Association, some long-term effects that childhood sexual abuse can cause, include:

  • Depression
  • Guilt
  • Shame
  • Self-blame
  • Eating disorders
  • Anxiety
  • Dissociative patterns
  • Repression
  • Denial
  • Sexual problems
  • Relationship problems
  • Disturbed sleeping patterns

Many times, the survivors of childhood abuse struggle with long-term effects like these for years or even decades before coming forward. In some instances, by the time someone was ready to seek justice, the statute of limitations had already passed. However, a new state law, called the Child Victims Act, addresses this problem by extending the statute of limitations in New York.

A new law gives survivors more time to seek justice

After turning 18 years old, a survivor of childhood abuse only had from one to five years to bring a civil lawsuit against his or her abuser. A survivor only had until age 20 or 23 to file criminal charges against his or her abuser.

Survivors now have until they are 25 or 28 years old to file criminal charges against their abusers. The statute of limitations varies based on the severity of the offenses.

Survivors also now have until age 55 to file civil claims, if their claims have not yet expired under the old statute of limitations. Someone can file a claim against an abuser or against an institution that was involved in the abuse.

For those whose claims have already expired, there is a one-year window in which they can file civil claims. The one-year window began August 14, 2019, and since then, hundreds of survivors have filed claims.

Adults who were sexually abused as children may seek justice for a variety of reasons. Survivors may be able to receive financial compensation for the long-term effects caused by the abuse. However, their lawsuits may also help prevent similar situations from occurring to other children.

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