From Helping Survivors of Sexual Abuse & Assault

Child sexual abuse and molestation come with serious long-term effects. Child abuse is known to cause serious harm to a victim’s lifelong mental and emotional health. These consequences can create a domino effect, rippling outward to affect a victim’s relationships, physical health, educational success, earning ability, and quality of life.

The CDC estimates that 91% of childhood sexual abuse is perpetrated by someone the child knows. Children often do not report sexual abuse. Sometimes, this is out of fear or shame. However, not all child sexual abuse happens in the same way. When a child is molested, they may not realize until adulthood that they were the victim of sexual abuse.

The statutes of limitations for taking legal action over childhood sexual abuse are set on a state-by-state basis. In recent years, there has been a national movement toward re-examining and lengthening the statutes of limitations surrounding childhood sexual abuse. This has led to an increase in adult survivors coming forward decades after the abuse occurred. It’s never too for childhood sexual abuse victims to get help and pursue justice.

What counts as child sexual abuse?

Experiencing childhood sexual abuse or molestation is considered an adverse childhood experience (ACE). An ACE is a traumatizing event that can go on to negatively impact nearly every aspect of a person’s well-being.

Childhood sexual abuse is a complicated issue. It can happen in many different ways, and a victim’s reactions are highly individualized.

Child abuse is identified by the CDC as occurring when a child under 18 is involved in sexual activity that they don’t understand or cannot consent to. Legally, any child under the age of consent is a victim of sexual abuse when they are involved in any type of sexual activity.

Child sexual abuse can be physical or non-physical. Common examples include:

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