Individuals who have survived childhood sexual abuse (CSA) are more likely to suffer various mental disorders, suicidal tendencies, health hazards, poor oral health, and sexually transmitted illnesses, and are more likely to have antisocial behaviors, according to a 45-year longitudinal study recently published in Development and Psychopathology.
According to the authors of the new paper, these difficulties persist into adulthood and are associated with CSA severity.
Hayley Guiney and colleagues argue that studying the long-term consequences of CSA has been difficult in the past. Firstly, most studies have focused on a few specific outcomes. Secondly, most studies have relied on participants who have already sought help in a clinical setting.
This research aimed to collect detailed data on CSA's long-term outcomes by following 937 participants from birth through midlife, over 20 years, including from young adulthood through age 45. The data used in the study is from a population-based birth cohort study known as the Dunedin Study.
The results demonstrated that those who reported CSA were more likely to have issues in various areas throughout their adult life, including physical, mental, sexual, interpersonal, economic, and antisocial. However, other difficulties may play a role in determining whether or not the relationship is related.
The study concluded that CSA did not have any significant relationship with sexual problems, risky sexual behavior, or parenting difficulties. Despite this, there is still a possibility that future longitudinal studies may uncover additional connections between CSA and sexual outcomes or later parenting difficulties.
The study's credibility is enhanced by its high retention rate, consistent measures used throughout adulthood, and various definitions of CSA to demonstrate consistent results. However, the research does have limitations, including its dependence on retrospectively reported CSA and its limited sample sizes in the exposed groups. Regardless, the results suggest that CSA has long-lasting and negative effects on various aspects of life.
The research findings on the long-term effects of child sexual abuse (CSA) have significant implications for policy and practice. This information may assist organizations in establishing support systems for CSA survivors, while also highlighting the importance of early intervention to avoid undesirable outcomes and enhance overall adult well-being.
Hayley Guiney, Avshalom Caspi, Jesse Kokaua, Robert J. Hancox, HonaLee Harrington, Sean Hogan, Sandhya Ramrakha, W. Murray Thomson, Terrie E. Moffitt, and Richie Poulton coauthored the paper.