The pervasiveness of child sexual abuse in our society is becoming increasingly clear through an academic climate that no longer views this abuse as taboo. However, society at large seems reluctant to acknowledge let alone deal adequately with the issue. Psychologists, primarily because of the nature of their role, are continually faced with harrowing tales of child sexual abuse. As a group, psychologists cannot avoid the issue (Read, Kirsty, Argyle & Aderhold, 2003). Increasingly, research suggests that childhood sexual abuse places a person at a greater risk of a vast array of psychological problems. As a form of prevention psychologists play an important role in educating the public and providing current research (Paolucci, Genius & Vialato, 2001).
Child sexual abuse is one of the most pervasive social problems faced by our society (Edwards, George, Holden, Felitti, Anda, 2003). Its impact is profound not only because of the frequency with which it occurs, but also because of the substantial trauma brought to the lives of victims.
Historically, the sexual abuse of children was addressed reluctantly due to it being viewed as a disturbing taboo topic. In recent years the mental health profession has developed an understanding of the frequency and magnitude of concern necessary when dealing with child sexual abuse. This perspective is unavoidable as clinicians repeatedly see the manifestation of sexual abuse in the lives of their clients. This essay will outline the prevalence of child sexual abuse and the detrimental impact it has on victims. More specifically, this paper discusses how sexual abuse influences psychiatric disorders, neurobiological dysregulation and dysfunctional behaviours. It will then explain the psychologist's role in education about, awareness of, and research into child sexual abuse.
Childhood sexual abuse is a complex life experience, not just a diagnosis or a disorder. An array of sexual...