Sexual & Physical Abuse

These secrets can cause shame and damage your health

Sexual & Physical Abuse: What You Need to Know

Young adults frequently enter treatment with shame-based secrets — and having been sexually or physically abused is very likely the No. 1 secret. Sexual abuse can include unwanted touching, molestation, or rape. Physical abuse can range from pushing, shoving, kicking, and pinching, to hitting, punching, and worse; and the offenders are usually family members, whether it’s a sibling, parent, or stepparent.

Sexual abuse can also happen at the hands of a family member, making it incest, or the perpetrator can be a family friend, someone in the neighborhood, at school, or a complete stranger. It can be covert with no touch involved, such as sexual shaming, exposing a child to pornography, or sexualized joking and innuendo. Molestation, unwanted touching, and rape (by a family member, stranger, acquaintance, or date) are all forms of overt sexual abuse. As teens and young adults begin experimenting with drugs and alcohol, there is greater risk of sexual assault. Today, young women need to be aware of the risk of being drugged without their knowledge, often for the purpose of sexual assault by one or multiple perpetrators.

You don’t even need to experience abuse firsthand to be affected. In a family where there is physical abuse, witnessing that abuse can be just as harmful as being the victim. This phenomenon, called the “witness factor,” recognizes that those who witness abuse often struggle with the same issues as those who are the recipient of abuse. This leads to an overwhelming sense of powerlessness and immobilization that and needs to be addressed in order to find healing.

Effects of Sexual & Physical Abuse

The effects of child sexual abuse can be long-lasting and affect the victim’s mental health.  According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), victims are more likely than non-victims to experience mental health challenges. They are four times more likely to abuse drugs, four times more likely to develop PTSD, and three times more likely to experience a major depressive episode as adults.

Many children or young adults who have been abused turn to alcohol or drugs as a way to self-medicate and try to deal with their emotional pain. For some, their pain turns into rage, and it is sadly not uncommon for the abused to become the abuser.

Those who have experienced physical or sexual abuse may struggle with:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • PTSD
  • Substance abuse
  • Rage

The Stats on Sexual & Physical Abuse

  • Roughly 1 in 9 girls and 1 in 53 boys under the age of 18 experience sexual abuse or assault at the hands of an adult.
  • 82% of all sex abuse victims under 18 are female.
  • Females ages 16-19 are 4 times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault.
  • Nearly 700,000 children are abused in the US each year.
  • In 2018, an estimated 1,770 children died from abuse and neglect in the United States.
  • Nationally, neglect is the most common form of abuse. Nearly 61% of victims (3 out of 5) were neglected.
  • More than 10% of abuse victims were physically abused only and 7% were sexually abused only, while more than 15% of kids suffered two or more forms of abuse.
  • Most child victims are abused by a parent, but child-on-child abuse is also common. In 2019, 22% of people alleged to have abused a child were children and 14% were teenagers.

SOURCES: RAINN and National Children’s Alliance

Treating Sexual & Physical Abuse

Sexual abuse for both females and males can have lifelong effects on the young adult if not treated. The shame is overwhelming, the perceived guilt is pervasive, and the consequences of not attending to this life-damaging event range from various forms of self-injury to suicide attempts and substance abuse.

We utilize experiential therapies including neurofeedback, mindfulness practices, equine-assisted psychotherapy, challenge courses, trauma-informed psychodrama, EMDR, and Somatic Experiencing to address these issues. Our evidence-based treatment approach has proven effective in helping individuals process and overcome emotional trauma, including trauma from adoption or abandonment.

Trauma or PTSD

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Help for Sexual & Physical Abuse

If not addressed, physical and sexual abuse can have far-reaching negative effects on a young adult’s life. The Claudia Black Young Adult Center can help individuals suffering from trauma, substance use, or mental health conditions related to physical and sexual abuse. We offer a comprehensive treatment program that focuses on healing the whole person, and our experienced staff looks forward to helping you begin your healing journey.

Roughly 1 in 9 girls and 1 in 53 boys under the age of 18 experience sexual abuse or assault at the hands of an adult, according to the National Children’s Alliance.


Our experienced, compassionate Admissions team is here to help 24 hours a day and will treat you with the dignity and respect you deserve. Let our specialists help you create a road map to get you where you want to go: a healthier, more balanced, fulfilling place in life. When you call, you’ll be led through a series of questions to determine if the Claudia Black Young Adult Center is the right fit for your needs, and how soon your treatment can begin.

If you are interested in treatment for yourself or a loved one, call or fill out our convenient Admissions form!




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