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  • Agnes Wohl

The Secondary Fallout from Being Sexually Abused as a Child: Retraumatization

Updated: 3 days ago

Many people stay silent for most of their lives when they have been sexually abused as a child.  This is because I believe it takes a village to sexually abuse a child.  First, and of course foremost, is the perpetrator of the abuse.  Then there are the parents, extended family, school officials, church members. etc.   Everyone’s head has to be in the sand.  Someone should notice, but sadly, mostly no one does, nor acts on it, even if they perhaps see some signs. 


As the child grows into adulthood, he or she may finally find their voice.   They tell a trusted person after they muster up courage.  The responses unfortunately, for many are not what they hope for, ie “that’s ancient history”, “it was so long ago you should be over it,”  “are you sure?”, or never to be spoken of again. This is brutal for the survivor, the warrior, who has had to overcome so much to actually make it to adulthood and have the courage to finally speak their truth. 


Sexual abuse is a form of soul murder.  It damages mind, body, and spirit.   It changes your worldview and robs you of your innocence and community.  This often needs to be explained to someone who either has never experienced this or commonly have not dealt with their own traumatic past ( 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys have experienced sexual abuse before the age of 18).   We need to have these conversations outloud and extended, so people know the devastation that occurs in the wake of this travesty.  


So, keep talking and keep telling your story.  It’s yours and you are the victim, not the perpetrator.   Do not allow others to take away your truth.  You have power now and are no longer that helpless child.  Enlighten others that this is not something you ever fully “get over”.  It changes you in some very fundamental ways, good and bad.   You need to continue working on yourself and help those “uneducated” others to understand the past is not in the past. It lives today.  Lastly, a message for you: Sexual abuse is an awful thing that happened to you.  “It does not define you.”





Agnes Wohl

Clinical Social Worker

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