Resources
S&F Bookstore Link Exchange
Worksheets
For Domestic Abuse Resolving Childhood Wounds Symptoms of Abuse Test Your Intimacy IQ
Puzzles
Recovery Puzzle
Amazon Search

Symptoms & After-effects of Sexual Abuse

The following are some common symptoms or after-effects Survivors experience. However, having some of these symptoms does not necessarily mean you are a victim of sexual abuse. Mark only one answer to each of the following. Watch for results.

Please either copy and fill out, or fill out here to give you an idea of the areas you have grown in, and the areas that might still need some attention. This is a tool for your self-evaluation only. Having some of the symptoms listed does not necessarily mean you were sexually abuse, the it does show perhaps the likelihood.

Fear
Symptoms Never Slightly Definitely
Fear of being alone
Fear of the dark
Fear of abandonment
Fear of rejection
Fear of change
Fear of exposure
Afraid to be touched, hugged, etc.
Fear of intimacy
Fear of being out of control; going crazy
Fear of sexuality or sexual feelings
Unexplained fear of certain places (i.e., parks, woods, closets, bedrooms, bathroooms)
Fear of pelvic exams
Unexplained fears relating to own children (i.e.,Desperately fearing that your children may end up experiencing what you did; constant hovering over them or at least feeling anxiety about them, particularly as they reach the age at which you were abused)
Fear that something bad will happen (catastrophizing)
Fear of certain persons
Physical Symptoms
Symptoms Never Slightly Definitely
Gagging sensitivity
Ignoring body signals (i.e. pain, fatigue, hunger, etc.)
Hiding or protecting self by wearing baggy clothing
Carrying extra weight in an effort to protect self
Dealing with physical illnesses that you suspect may in some way be associated
Feeling a real dislike of your own body; trying to deny certain aspects of the way your body looks
Having numbness in certain parts of your body from time to time (especially areas that are used sexually)
Muscle tension—headaches/backaches
Unexplained gastrointestinal distress
Mental Symptoms
Symptoms Never Slightly Definitely
Eating disorders (bulimia, anorexia, etc.)
Feelings of being fat and/or ugly even when not (“body dysmorphic”)
Stealing, shoplifting
Compulsive and/or addictive behavior (eating, shopping, working, sex, smoking, drinking, etc.)
Self-destructive behavior; feeling self-hatred, even to the point of self-mutilation or self-destruction; suicidal thoughts, attempts
Shutting down emotionally, detaching
Rigidity
Depression
Anxiety, panic attacks
Control issues: need to be in control of self, others, situations
Feeling the need to be perfect in all aspects of life: relationships, vocation, daily living
Having a sense of overwhelming guilt, a feeling of always being wrong—especially in relationships
Feeling a constant need to make up for being a bad person, therefore driving oneself to achieve in most areas of life
Having low self-esteem
Guilt, shame (i.e. having recurring thoughts such as: “Something's wrong with me.” “I was seductive—I wanted it.” “I am dirty and stained forever.” “I am alone and I exist to be taken advantage of.” “I am only good for sex.” “I deserved to be abused.” “I deserve only bad things.”
Feeling crazy or different
Withdrawal and isolation
Denial or minimization
Feeling confused or disoriented much of the time
Inability to deal with strong feelings; fearing you will lose control over your emotions
Numb self to own feelings: drugs, alcohol, food, staying too busy
Feeling watched
Depersonalization (i.e. feeling numb, feeling separate from one's self in certain situation, experiencing multiple personalities)
Humorlessness (or inappropriate humor especially in fearful, or difficult circumstances)
Seeking peace and safety “at any price”
Having a general feeling of hopelessness, both about yourself and life in general; feeling like you have no control over life's circumstances
Experiencing a deep and irrational fear of or hatred for some person who has not necessarily abused you, but could have
Feeling that you should be able to grow up and move beyond all these intrusive thoughts about your abuse—but you can't seem to do it
Feeling envy of other people who have “normal” lives
Having difficulty in trusting one's own thought processes and feelings
Failure to see or take responsibility for actions and circumstances
Anger issues (i.e. fear of expressing anger, fearing that if you let go of your anger, you might do something dangerous or never be able to regain control, constant anger, disproportionate anger)
Relationship Issues
Symptoms Never Slightly Definitely
Feeling like damaged goods, not worthy of others’ love; if married, feeling especially unworthy of a spouse's love
Having difficulty in accepting genuine acceptance, love, and caring from nearly everyone
Feeling that the other person must be right most of the time
Excessive nurturing of others while ignoring own needs or wants or a “nurturing mother type” for many people
Pattern of re-victimization
Having difficulty in making commitments to others
Frequently clinging to people who seem to need you, even when they make you angry
Finding yourself mistreating your own children and not understanding why
Having difficulty in feeling emotionally close to your children—or, conversely, being over involved with or overprotective of them
Having unexplained difficulty with things like bathing own children
When with your childhood family, feeling out of control, frightened, unimportant, angry, or depressed
Feeling a need to protect your family from the knowledge of what happened to you
Trust issues: difficulty trusting anyone; avoid intimacy for fear that if people really knew you, they would reject you; frequently “testing” people who say they love you just to see if they really do; trusting indiscriminately
Getting approval by “performing,” pleasing others; an overwhelming need to please others coupled with a self-image dependent upon how well you please others
Boundary issues: unable to confront; inability to say “no” or needing to do what others ask of you regardless of own feelings and needs; believe you don't even have a right to your own feelings
Sexual Issues
Symptoms Never Slightly Definitely
Repressed sexuality; avoidance of sex; feeling sex is distasteful or disgusting; ashamed of sexual feelings
Compulsive/obsessive sex
Promiscuity (inability to say no, believe you're a sex object only good for sex; feeling that your value is primarily in your sexuality
Vaginismus (vaginal contractions) or dyspareunia (painful sex)
Giving sex to feel love, giving love to get sex—difficulty distinguishing between the desire for intimacy and desire for sex
Unable to enjoy sex or certain parts of it
Having flashbacks during sex (or confusing partner with abuser)
Spacing out during sex
Intrusive abuse, rape, or S & M images during sex, or inability to reach orgasm without these images
Confusion as to sexual identity
Sexual deviancy (addiction to pornography, flashers, obscene phone calls, etc.)
Victim becomes a perpetrator (abuser)
Memory
Symptoms Never Slightly Definitely
Memory gaps of early years
Flashbacks: feel, hear, smell, dream, etc., certain events, and not necessarily know the meaning
Nightmares of abuse incidents, being chased, etc.
Unrealistic “over-idealization” of childhood or parents
Denial of events or their importance
Minimize or excuse abuse incidents, “It wasn't that bad,” “Others had it worse,” They couldn't help themselves,” etc.
Triggers: certain events (childbirth, seeing own abuser holding your child, your own child reaching age when your abuse began, your child reaching age of your abuser, etc.) can trigger flashbacks, unexplained fears, or full memories
Spiritual
Symptoms Never Slightly Definitely
Inability to feel loved unconditionally and accepted by God
Anger toward God
Difficulty trusting God
Spiritual emptiness
Tired of trying to please God
Blame God for life's circumstances
Inability to give or receive forgiveness
Insistence on 'earning' salvation, yet feeling unworthy of God's favor or grace

Site by Flashfire Designs
Copyright 1993-2003, Survivors & Friends

Help Out
Make a Donation S&F Bookstore
About Us
General Info Staff Mission Statement Contact Us
Misc
Awards Web Rings