Sexual abuse is defined as the forcing of undesired sexual behavior by one person upon another. The psychological impact of sexual abuse varies substantially from individual to individual. Some victims are highly resilient and recover on their own. Others develop persistent problems that may last a lifetime.
Statistics show that 80 percent of victims of sexual abuse are under the age of 18. Of those, between 20 and 30 percent are women and 10 to 15 percent are men. Furthermore, while there is a difference between being affected and being substantially harmed, interpersonal crimes such as sexual abuse have the strongest psychological impact.
For victims who do not quickly return to baseline or fail to recover within months without treatment, the persistent effects of sexual abuse can result in an extreme or significant acute response that leads to either no recovery at all or continued deterioration. These acute responses can be:
- Crime-specific psychological conditions such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Non-specific psychological conditions such as substance abuse disorders, depression, or other conditions with multiple pathways
- Exacerbation of pre-existing conditions
- Personal and crime-specific factors that lead to individual problems and conditions
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a trauma specific diagnosis that requires exposure to trauma and subjective experience of fear/horror/helplessness that results in impairment. Considered a “failure to recover,” it is often co-morbid with other conditions, such as depression and other anxiety related disorders. If PTSD lasts for more than 6 months, it is considered chronic and often requires treatment for recovery—and may persist for many years. Risk variables for the individual may include gender, temperament or constitutional characteristics, prior psychiatric history or prior trauma. Crime specific variables may include the severity of the crime, perceived life threat, shame, and exposure to multiple episodes over extended periods of time.
Don’t let the Statute of Limitations Prevent You From Getting Justice
One of the many tragedies surrounding sexual abuse is that victims often do not report the crime until much later in life, when it is too late to obtain compensation due to the statute of limitations in Pennsylvania. If you are a victim of sexual abuse, and are under the age of 30, and need a sexual assault lawyer, please contact Mr. Monahan immediately. He is one of the few attorneys in Pennsylvania who focuses on this complex and highly specialized area of sexual assault criminal law.