The Psychological Consequences of Sexual Abuse and the Silence about it

2015.03.24 Anna Mary


The design above depicts the tree of life of sexually abused minors with some aspects of their internal and external reality. This springs from my work experience of accompanying persons in the process of healing.

The sexually abused minors experience a number of traumatic consequences. For many reasons they tend to keep the abuse as a deeply hidden secret. For example they may belief that an Indian proverb implies to them: “When the leaf falls on the thorn or the thorn falls on the leaf, it is the fault of the leaf”. The girl or the boy who suffers abuse will ultimately be blamed for that, so they decide to be silent. Children who are emotionally neglected maintain silence to retain their parents’ approval and affection – they are silent with the fear of losing their parents’ love. Some of them, due to the shock or the failure to resist the abuse, experience helplessness and become physically limp or dissociate mentally the terrible experience.

As consequence of the abuse and the silence certain developmental processes may be affected, such as the ability to enter into and maintain trustful relationships or to develop a sound self-esteem. Many develop different coping behaviors to protect themselves from negative feelings, thoughts, and internal conflict, which may in turn contribute to additional distress. Those who break the silence and care for their inner and exterior needs can experience the transformation of their life’s tree and bear fruit.

Sr. Anna Mary Thumma

CCP Research Assistant