“A blatant moral failure”: the additional trauma when a father sexually abuses his child


Emotionally, young people can have difficulty identifying, expressing and managing their emotions. This can lead to problems with depression, anxiety or anger, Ms. Tan said.

Their emotional responses can be “unpredictable or explosive,” and they can display “aggressive behavior” as they feel overwhelmed by their feelings and know of no other way to express them, she added.

To an outsider, Ms. Tan said the individual may appear to be “easily triggered” or “triggered” and is more likely to react more intensely. They may have difficulty “regulating themselves and lacking control over their impulses or the ability to think through consequences before acting.”

She noted that young children may also use aggression to feel in control or to defend themselves against “their own feelings of helplessness or vulnerability.”

In the aftermath of child sexual abuse, dissociation can also occur. This means that the child feels “disconnected from their thoughts, feelings, identity and environment under stress,” Ms. Tan said.

“Dissociation can affect an individual’s ability to be fully present in the activities of daily living and can drastically break an individual’s sense of time and continuity. Therefore, it can have a negative impact on people. social interactions, job performance, learning. “

Finally, children who have been sexually abused by a father figure can develop a distorted self-concept.

“They can learn that they cannot be trusted, that the world is not safe, and that they are powerless to change their situation. Negative beliefs about themselves, others and the world will decrease their sense of competence. , interfering with positive problem solving and reducing opportunities to make a difference in their own lives, ”Ms. Tan said.

These children are struggling to keep hope, she added. Having learned to function in “survival mode”, the individual lives in the moment, without worrying about the future.

What is important to note is that the above symptoms may also be present in a child who has experienced physical and emotional abuse or neglect, but not from a father figure.

But those who have been sexually abused by a father figure may also have “inappropriate sexual knowledge, language and behavior for children,” Ms. Tan added.

“For example, they may display inappropriate sexual behavior, such as pretending to have sex with another child. As they grow older, their difficulties may worsen and they are likely to engage in behaviors. more at risk such as drug addiction or promiscuous sexual behavior. “

That said, the impact of any form of child abuse depends on a series of factors, MSF said.

These include the child’s life experiences, for example whether he has known other adversities; the duration and severity of the abuse; the amount of social assistance they receive; their coping strategies; and their beliefs about the abuse they suffered, such as whether they feel responsible for causing it.

Not all survivors will experience the same symptoms.

“SSurvivors whose resilience is supported by healthy coping strategies and who have good emotional support from family, friends and the wider social environment can function well in everyday life ”, MSF added.


Julio V. Miller

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