Help make your days joy

The responses to an open-ended online survey question were heart-wrenching.

“Those five years ruined everything. My self-identity is sad, melancholic, shy, retiring and angry… never content or at peace.”

“It has hampered me all my working life.”

“Problems with relationships with the opposite sex my whole life made me think something was wrong with me.”

“I will never know the person I could have become….”

 

Lasting Scars of Childhood Sexual Abuse

All of those comments were made by adult men who had experienced sexual abuse at the hands of clergy, particularly priests, when they were children. Collected as part of a 2010 survey, they illustrate the insidious harm that can follow individuals throughout their lives when they are badly hurt — physically or emotionally — as children.

A study of more than 21,000 child abuse survivors age 60 and older in Australia found they reported a greater rate of failed marriages and relationships.

(See below for a video of one such man.)

Childhood sexual abuse is just one type of early trauma that can affect one’s life for decades — even into middle age and beyond. Research has shown that childhood trauma, ranging from parents’ divorce to alcoholism in the home, increases the odds of heart disease, stroke, depression, suicide, diabetes, lung diseases, alcoholism and liver disease later in life. It also increases risky health behaviors like smoking and having a large number of sexual partners. And it contributes to “low life potential,” according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.