The psychological sequelae of childhood sexual abuse: A review of the literature and implications for treatment

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Abstract

The current paper aims to bring together some of the literature on the long-term effects of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) in a way that will be useful to clinical practitioners and researchers in this field. The issues surrounding the definition of CSA and work on the prevalence, background and context in which abuse occurs is evaluated. In addition a selection of the relevant research relating to the psychological effects of early abuse in the domains of self-esteem, symptomatology resembling post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety is reviewed and examined. The key methodological issues are reported and some of the worries facing researchers portrayed. Although much of the research to date has been largely atheoretical, some of the theoretical thinking in this area is reviewed. Finally some of the clinical implications of this body of work are outlined.

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