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What you might have noticed in your partner

People who were sexually abused in childhood can struggle with the effects of being abused for a long time, even if the abuse stopped many, many years ago. Some people have blocked out their trauma for many years as a way of coping and something can trigger their memory which can be traumatic years later.

There are many possible short and long-term effects that can result from being abused in childhood, some of which may make sense to you, and some you may find more difficult to understand. The important thing to remember is what you may be noticing in your partner now is likely to be happening because of the experiences they had to cope with when they were a child.

The list below shows some of the effects that being sexually abused in childhood can have on survivors in their adult lives. It is not a complete list and not all of these effects will be experienced by everyone, but there are likely to be things on it that you might have noticed in your partner:

Intense nightmares
Panic attacks
Feeling a failure
Fear of men/ women
Fear of authority
Fear of the dark
Unable to say "no"
Eating disorders
Drink/drug abuse
Fear of sex/sexual problems
Always crying
Expect rejection
Always asking "Why me"?
Unable to take compliments
Excessive interest in sex/sexual identity
Problems trusting people
Unable to cry
Low self-esteem
Anger (or fear of their own)
Feeling suicidal
Seeing no way forward
Often feeling "used"
Fear of open spaces
Sleep problems
Self-harm and cutting
Lack of emotions
Need to be perfect

Sometimes these effects emerge later in life because feelings and memories about the abuse have remained buried for many years. Some of these effects are actually ways that the survivor has learnt to cope with what happened to them as a child. Although these feelings can be overwhelming and unpleasant, they are part of the healing process and with appropriate support and help these can be managed.