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Theraputic Services for Sexually Abused Children and Young People

Scoping the Evidence Base

Sexual abuse can have many varied impacts on children and young people. The stress suffered by an abused child can disturb the development of the child’s brain architecture, impairing cognitive, behavioural and physical development. Abuse can cause direct physical harm during childhood and continuing symptoms of ill-health later in life and in some cases is a factor in substance misuse, selfharm or suicide. Childhood sexual abuse has been linked to childhood and adult mental health issues including anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It can impact on behaviour and relationships, including risky or harmful sexual behaviour, delinquency, crime and poor parenting. In time, the consequences can limit the survivor’s future opportunities and lead to further adversities later in life. Dealing with the consequences of childhood sexual abuse also has a significant economic cost to the UK.