Monday, June 20, 2016

Childhood Sexual Abuse Health Impact on Older Adult Survivors (Research, Video 3:29)

"If you tell anyone, I will kill you." Childhood sexual abuse is an extremely under-reported crime that often includes a threat of serious harm to victims or their families. Many victims choose not to discuss the abuse with anyone. A major concern is that 90% of these sexual abusers target children they know. The stigma and shame of sexual abuse fester inside, impacting females and males for years as they age through adulthood. 

Numerous older adults live with long-term mental and physical repercussions from being sexually abused as children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children who are abused or neglected are at higher risk for health problems as adults. These problems include alcoholism, depression, drug abuse, eating disorders, obesity, high-risk sexual behaviors, smoking, suicide, and certain chronic diseases.

This study reported in International Psychogeriatrics examined the long-term association between childhood sexual abuse and mental and physical health of 8,178 older adults. These were the results:

1)  Six percent of respondents reported childhood sexual abuse with little variation by gender.
2)  A significant association was found between childhood sexual abuse and mental health with victims more likely to have depression, anxiety, worry, loneliness, and low quality of life. Poor self-reported health, lung disease, arthritis, peptic ulcer, chronic pain, and high levels of total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein were associated with childhood sexual abuse.
3)  Those who reported childhood sexual abuse were more likely to report doctor and hospital visits than those without that history.

This study concludes that childhood sexual abuse can have long-term mental and physical consequences for older adults. RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network)  is the nation’s largest anti-sexual assault organization. The National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline  800-656-HOPE (4673) can connect callers with trained staff members from sexual assault service providers in the callers’ areas and provide a range of free services.

Sexual abuse of boys has particularly been neglected by the media and in general conversations. Pressures from society teach boys that real men are not victims. But 200 brave men came forward on the Oprah show to publicly acknowledge that sexually abusive adults who were often relatives or friends of their families victimized them as children. The men share their stories in this video:

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.

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