Sample Literature Review On Child Sexual Abuse

April 13, 2022 by Essay Writer


Children are one of the most vulnerable and tender section of the society. They are the ones who shape up the future of the world. At the same time, any bad incidence with them will lead to increase in the sufferings of the world in every aspect or field. Children are being exposed to many illicit and harmful activities which affect them in a negative way mentally, physically and socially. One of those many activities is the act of childhood sex abuse. The incidences of sexual abuse have been on the rise since the last few decades. The increase in the number of child sexual crimes has led to a global embarrassment. The crime has been rising exponentially in every part of the world. The heinous crime affects the society, the family and the most affected is the child himself/ herself. The impact that it brings about on the mind of the child is beyond explanation. The child remains under the impression of the incidence throughout its life. More than the physical pain, it is the mental torture that shatters the child into pieces. It may affect the entire future course of the child’s life. In this paper, we will discuss in detail about the psychological effects of child sexual abuse. We will try to find out the repercussions of the act on the innocent minds of the children. We will study about the age prevalence of the act, the gender that is affected more, the effects it has on the psychology or the mental health of the children and the factors that influence the reaction of the child about the act or the incidence.


The crime, that is, child sexual abuse, that the children are subjected to, may be committed by anyone around them. But the people who are mostly involved in such activities are the family members of the children or people who are very close to the family. The graph given below depicts the percentage of people who are usually found to be guilty of crimes, like committing child sexual abuse. The maximum number of these cases occurring as a result of the involvement of some male relatives of the child other than the father or stepfather. The next highest rate of incidence is shown by some close family friend; it is also as high as 16.3%. Contrary to the normally expected norms, strangers constitute a very less share of such individuals. According to the graph given below, only 11.1% of the criminals are strangers or are completely unknown to the child. Quite a high number of the abusers are the neighbors of the child and his family.
(Childhood sex offenders, 2016)
The prevalence of child sexual abuse has been determined with the help of a quantitative research which was performed to determine the spread of the illicit act all over the world. The study covered 22 countries of the world; the results showed that 7.9% men and 19.7% women have experienced sexual abuse before the age of eighteen. The article further claims the crime to be a serious problem which needs to be dealt with urgently and with great caution (Pereda, Guilera, Forns & Gómez-Benito, 2009). The numbers of such cases have only increased in the last few years. This shows the increase in the inhuman characteristics of the human beings. People are losing their empathy and compassion with each passing day. The increase in the stress in the daily lives of people has subjected them to behave like animals. Human beings are becoming more reckless, violent and less sympathetic. The innocence of a child also falls short. They do not pay any heed to any human emotions and sentiments. All they know now is competition, success, rage, jealousy and revenge.
(Safety and Security (AIHW), 2016)
If we try to analyze the cause of such crimes deeply, we can get a number of factors that are responsible. One of the most important factors is the increase in the lust of the human beings. Pedophilia has been gaining momentum at a very high pace all over the world. Other important factors could be jealousy or the feeling of revenge. Rivalry among elders often leads to harm to the children. The people with a negative mindset tend to take revenge by harming the children of the opposite clan. They find it easier to harm them as they are highly vulnerable, cannot defend themselves and would not confide to their elders about such happenings easily.
In another quantitative study, it was found that among 324 females, 37.7% have received sexual abuse in the form of nonconsensual sexual attempts before the age of 16 (Aspelmeier, Elliott & Smith, 2007). Younger age makes the females more prone to such crimes. The criminal considers the victim young enough to understand anything. He feels she is too young to protest or to complain to the elders about the same. Most of the children develop a guilt conscious after being exposed to such happenings. They feel it was them who were responsible for those things. They feel that if they confide to their elders, then they would not believe them and would rather blame the child. These feelings in the children keep them away from rebelling and taking a stand against all the injustice they are being subjected to. On the other hand, these similar feelings in children empower the criminals and they find it easier to perform such heinous crimes.
According to a mixed research article, it was seen that the children who belong to families having a stressful environment are more likely to suffer sexual abuse. These children are prone to get exposed to external factors and outside perpetrators more than those with a more peaceful home environment. A stressful home environment increases the predisposition to being attacked by others. When a child faces the lack of peace and harmony in his family, he tries to escape from the situation, he often tries to find someone whom he can depend upon and who can become a support for him. For these children, their relatives and neighbors become the rescuer. They find a friend in them. But these are those relatives who take advantage of the innocence of the children. They become regular visitors of the house and remain unsusceptible in the eyes of the parents and other family members. They end up abusing the children sexually. The children then get into a shell; they feel cheated and become further lonelier.
In the same article, it was also discussed that women are usually the worst affected when it comes to child sexual abuse and psychiatric disorders as a result of the same. The study took 126 women as participants, out of them, 37 women showed a positive history of childhood sex abuse. Out of those 37, only two reported non-contacted forms of sexual abuse (Gladstone et al., 2004).
(Quantum Mediocity, 2016)
The above graph demonstrates the age at which an individual reports about the incidence of child sex abuse that he or she has gone through during the early years of his life. As it is evident from the graph, many of the victims did not report the incident at the time when it happened. It takes years to admit that they have been subjected to such undeserving trauma as a child.
In a qualitative article, a research conducted by some eminent scientists was published. The aim of the research was to assess the relationship between incidences of sexual abuse as a child and the effect on the mind of the child in terms of psychiatric disorders as grownups. This study was based on online research which included some well-known databases like MEDLINE, CINAHL, PsycINFO, EMBASE, Journal Club, DARE, etc. these studies suggested that there is indeed a direct relationship between childhood sexual abuse and lifetime psychiatric disorders. The studies lead to the outcomes which enlisted few psychiatric disorders having direct relationships with childhood sexual abuse. Those mental ailments are the anxiety disorders, depression, PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder, sleep disorders, suicidal attempts and eating disorders. These disorders are evident in the victims of both the sexes, irrespective of the age at which the incident took place (Chen et al., 2010). The impact of such crimes is so deeply etched into the young minds that it creates a permanent impression on the personality of the individual. He may grow up as an adult, but the fear and the anxiety related to the incidence keeps haunting him throughout his life. The child wakes up screaming at nights, he may develop post-traumatic stress disorder following the event, he may also develop anxiety issues. The worst of all these is the fact that the child loses his trust on anyone around him. He feels everyone is coming near him with the same intention. He grows up as an individual who is suspicious and finds fault with everyone.
It is also a proven fact that the children who are assaulted sexually in their childhood are prone to suffer revictimization as adults due to the adoption of illegal methods to cope up with the post-traumatic disorder or PTSD. The children who face sexual assault develop a sense of self-blame and inferiority complex. This continues even as adults and they try to get rid of these emotions through indulging in alcohol and getting addicted to drugs. Revictimization is yet another issue that these children are subjected to. In order to cope up with the stress of being sexually assaulted at a young age, they tend to take the help of substances that harm them in the long run. The children indulge in alcohol and drugs. Such indulgence again increases their susceptibilities for being revictimized. They are again assaulted by others when under the influence of alcohol and narcotics.
Yet another qualitative research based on the association of child sexual abuse and suicide attempts or nonsuicidal self-injury, stated that this is one of the most important risk factors responsible for such attempts. The incidences of sexual abuse among children add up to their pre-existing stress and work as an additional factor towards provoking them to attempt such injurious or fatal acts (Maniglio, 2010). Children attempting suicides have become quite common nowadays. They find it an easy option to escape from the pains and sufferings of the world. Sometimes the reason for such attempt could be stress related to studies, peer pressure, the pressure in the family environment and incidences like sexual abuse. Sexual abuse is something that affects the child to the core, he finds it highly difficult to cope up with it. Thus, suicide seems to be a better option than being subjected to repeated sexual abuses.
A research based on the qualitative findings with 1000 people belonging to New Zealand between the age group of 16 to 25, found out that the chances of developing a mental disorder was 2.4 times higher in the individuals who have been exposed to childhood sexual abuse attempts or actual penetrative sexual abuse as children as compared to those who never faced any childhood sex abuse (Fergusson, Boden & Horwood, 2008). As a long term effect of the sexual abuse, children often develop mental illnesses. They suffer from diseases that are psychological in nature, because more than the physical trauma that they have been through, it is the mental pain that has affected them. Sexually abused children show a very high rate of developing psychosis when they grow up.
A quantitative study aimed at analyzing the association of neuropsychological disorders with childhood sexual abuse episodes. This topic has gained a lot of momentum since the last few years and has been discussed widely. In the wake of this current study, 26 sexually abused women were selected. The results of the study reported that 18 of the 26 females had a history of lifetime DSM- IV axis I disorder, seven of the females demonstrated the presence of axis I disorder at the time of the study, 3 of the females met the criterion for severe mood disorders and the other 3 females met the criterion for Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD (Navalta, Polcari, Webster, Boghossian & Teicher, 2006). Such is the impact of the event that it leads to neurological changes in the nervous system of the body. The affected children undergo changes in the body physiology and suffer from the diseases for a considerably long time.
(Australian Institute of Criminology, 2016)
Another qualitative study further supported the results. The women subjected to childhood sexual abuse are 1.4 times more likely to suffer from recurrent bodily pain. Similarly, the incidences of overall poor health were 1.3 times higher in sexually abused children. Simultaneously, the incidences of depression were 1.4 times higher among women who faced sexual abuse as children (Coles, Lee, Taft, Mazza & Loxton, 2014).
A quantitative study was carried out with the objective of examining the association of childhood sex abuse with a subsequent increase in the risk of developing an autoimmune disease as an adult individual. This study included 15,357 adults for the purpose of the study. Almost 64% of the individuals admitted having experienced childhood sex abuse. Among these affected individuals 31.4% women and 34.4% of men were hospitalized as a result of autoimmune disease developed in the later life or as an adult (Dube et al., 2009).
In a program evaluation based research, the survivors of childhood sexual abuse were considered. These individuals were divided into two groups, the intervention group, and the control or comparison group. The individuals involved in the intervention groups were subjected to some questionnaires, interviews, and video analyzes. Following the interventional programs, the participants gained significant knowledge and skills, they even made further disclosures, they also gave positive feedback about the program and their experiences (Barron & Topping, 2013).
Another quantitative study aimed at studying the predictors for resilience among the adolescents and young adults. It also tried to evaluate the changes in the resilience over a period of time, ranging from adolescence to adulthood. This study undertook 676 different cases of physical and sexual abuse along with neglect from a midwestern country in the time span ranging from 1967- 1971. Nearly half, that is, almost 48% were found to be resilient. Nearly 11%, who were resilient adolescents, were also resilient in their young adulthood. The female participants showed varied degrees of resilience through both the adolescent and adulthood of their lives. Increase in the stress levels and a supportive partner further promotes resilience in the individuals who faced childhood sex abuse (DuMont, Widom & Czaja, 2007).
The incidences of childhood sex abuse can lead to havoc on the innocent minds of the children. According to a quantitative study, out of 1196 individuals who were subjected to such crimes, 896 became addicted to the abuse of illicit drugs when they grew up (Wilson & Widom, 2008).
Thus, we can say that the incidences of childhood sex abuse have shaken the world badly. Thousands of children every year are being exposed to such traumatic events. Most of the cases go unregistered. Even if the victims discuss them, it is years after it has actually taken place. It then becomes difficult to trace down the culprit and punish them for their deeds. Females are always the worst sufferers of the crime. The maximum preponderance of the cases is seen in the children under the age of 16. As a consequence of such abuse, the children suffer from psychiatric disorders when they grow up. They often tend to get addicted to drugs and alcohol in order to combat the stress of being sexually abused. Many children even resort to committing suicides and harming themselves. In most of the cases, the culprit is a known person. He is either a close relative of the child or is a neighbor. It is highly important to teach the children about the good and bad touch. The children should be able to differentiate between the motives and intentions of the people coming near them. They should be able to communicate with their parents and other trusted elders about such activities. For this reason, it is important for the parents to develop such a bond with the child that he feels comfortable enough to share such things with them. He should be confident enough that if anything of such nature happens to him, then his parents will be there to support him. After all, they are the future of the world and the humanity. It is important to protect them and take good care of these little angels.


Aspelmeier, J., Elliott, A., & Smith, C. (2007). Childhood sexual abuse, attachment, and trauma symptoms in college females: The moderating role of attachment. Child Abuse & Neglect, 31(5), 549-566.
Australian Institute of Criminology,. (2016). Retrieved from
Barron, I., & Topping, K. (2013). Survivor Experience of a Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Program: A Pilot Study. Journal Of Interpersonal Violence, 28(14), 2797-2812.
Chen, L., Murad, M., Paras, M., Colbenson, K., Sattler, A., & Goranson, E. et al. (2010). Sexual Abuse and Lifetime Diagnosis of Psychiatric Disorders: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 85(7), 618-629.
Childhood sex offenders. (2016). Retrieved from
Coles, J., Lee, A., Taft, A., Mazza, D., & Loxton, D. (2014). Childhood Sexual Abuse and Its Association With Adult Physical and Mental Health: Results From a National Cohort of Young Australian Women. Journal Of Interpersonal Violence, 30(11), 1929-1944.
Dube, S., Fairweather, D., Pearson, W., Felitti, V., Anda, R., & Croft, J. (2009). Cumulative Childhood Stress and Autoimmune Diseases in Adults. Psychosomatic Medicine, 71(2), 243-250.
DuMont, K., Widom, C., & Czaja, S. (2007). Predictors of resilience in abused and neglected children grown-up: The role of individual and neighborhood characteristics. Child Abuse & Neglect, 31(3), 255-274.
Fergusson, D., Boden, J., & Horwood, L. (2008). Exposure to childhood sexual and physical abuse and adjustment in early adulthood. Child Abuse & Neglect, 32(6), 607-619.
Filipas, H. (2006). Child Sexual Abuse, Coping Responses, Self-Blame, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, and Adult Sexual Revictimization. Journal Of Interpersonal Violence, 21(5), 652-672.
Gladstone, G., Parker, G., Mitchell, P., Malhi, G., Wilhelm, K., & Austin, M. (2004). Implications of Childhood Trauma for Depressed Women: An Analysis of Pathways From Childhood Sexual Abuse to Deliberate Self-Harm and Revictimization. American Journal Of Psychiatry, 161(8), 1417-1425.
Maniglio, R. (2010). The role of child sexual abuse in the etiology of suicide and non-suicidal self-injury. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 124(1), 30-41.
Navalta, C., Polcari, A., Webster, D., Boghossian, A., & Teicher, M. (2006). Effects of Childhood Sexual Abuse on Neuropsychological and Cognitive Function in College Women. JNP, 18(1), 45-53.
Pereda, N., Guilera, G., Forns, M., & Gómez-Benito, J. (2009). The prevalence of child sexual abuse in community and student samples: A meta-analysis. Clinical Psychology Review, 29(4), 328-338.
Quantum Mediocity,. (2016). Retrieved from
Safety and Security (AIHW),. (2016). Retrieved from
Wilson, H., & Widom, C. (2008). A Prospective Examination of the Path from Child Abuse and Neglect to Illicit Drug Use in Middle Adulthood: The Potential Mediating Role of Four Risk Factors. J Youth Adolescence, 38(3), 340-354.


Read more