prognosis for sexually abused childrenQ: What is the prognosis for a mentally and sexually healthy life for children who get support and therapy following sexual abuse?

A: Good question. I would answer in terms of potential for full recovery from child sexual abuse. The recovery process takes different forms as there are many abuse-specific factors that can impact the course of recovery including chronicity and frequency of the abuse, type of relationship with the abuser, child’s capacity to cope pre-abuse, age at the time of the abuse, and absence or presence of protective factors following discovery of the abuse. For all children, full recovery depends primarily on how the world around them engages and supports them following discovery. With appropriate therapy, responsive and nurturing caregiving, and efforts to create a world for the survivor that is safe and secure, children can and do heal.

Dr. Jennifer Shaw is a clinical psychologist at the Gil Institute for Trauma Recovery and Education in Fairfax, Virginia.  She specializes in play therapy and therapy with children and teens who have experienced early trauma, including sexual abuse.

This topic was discussed in more detail on the Creating a Family show: Adopting a Child That May Have Been Sexually Abused.

Image credit: kg.abhi