The effects of child abuse

 According to a report produced in 2013 by the Institute of Family Studies [i]  into the long-term effects of child abuse, studies have found:

  • A significantly higher rate of a range of psychiatric disorders in sexually abused women, particularly in relation to drug and alcohol dependence and bulimia nervosa.
  • Higher rates of major depression, attempted suicide, conduct disorder, alcohol dependence, nicotine dependence, social anxiety, rape as an adult, divorce and panic disorder in victims of child sexual abuse.
  • Child sexual abuse has been identified as a risk factor for developing psychotic and schizophrenic syndromes.
  • Higher rates of suicide amongst victims of child abuse.
  • Higher rates of risky sexual behaviour with more sexual partners resulting in higher rates of unwanted pregnancies in women and STI’s in men who were victims of child sexual abuse[ii].
  • Greater difficulties in interpersonal and particularly intimate relationships among adults who were sexually abused in their childhood. These include increased instability in relationships, more sexual partners, an increased risk of sexual problems and greater negativity towards partners.

In particular, it has been observed that “clergy-perpetrated sexual abuse” can catastrophically alter the trajectory of psychosocial, sexual and spiritual development”.[iii]

ii.  ‘The long-term effects of child sexual abuse’:


iv; Fogler et al. (2008) Journal of Child Sexual Abuse.






About Peter Kelso

I am a solicitor of the Supreme Court of New South Wales. I have been admitted to practice since 1984. I am the principal and founder of Kelso Lawyers which has operated in Newcastle since 1986.

I have been an advocate for compensation for victims of abuse since the commencement of the Victims Compensation Tribunal in New South Wales in 1988. I conduct the largest victims practice in New South Wales. I have a high level of engagement with numerous NGOs such as woman’s refuges, sexual assault services, community organisations and healing centres.

On 31 October 2012 I was a finalist for the Justice Medal, presented by the Law and Justice Foundation of New South Wales.

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