The Scars of Sexual Abuse

The Scars of Sexual Abuse Sexual abuse--often today called sexual assault--comes in many forms: child molestation, statutory rape, date rape, acquaintance rape, stranger rape, and so on. Some types can occur as a child, others as a teenager, others as an adult. Some forms of abuse can involve a one-time incident, others repetitively over months or years. Sexual abuse is perpetrated by either males and females towards either male or female victims. Yes, girls and women commit these acts as well, and boys and men are victims as well. Regardless of the specifics of the sexual abuse, all will cause pain, scars, and problems. All will cause lingering effects and damage. Such trauma won’t necessarily go away on its own and is best treated therapeutically.

Boundary Problems

Boundaries can generally be defined as the limits of what we will and will not allow for with our interactions with others, whether physically or verbally. It relates to what we say yes and no to with others. When a person has a history of sexual abuse, the boundary problems that typically follow consist of having either too weak or too rigid boundaries with interactions with others. Weak boundaries involve having a very hard time saying no to what others are wanting or pressing you to do, whatever the other side is wanting. Rigid boundaries involve having a very hard time saying yes to what others want, even when doing so would most likely be safe and appropriate.

To assess your own boundaries and whether they are appropriate or too weak or rigid, get feedback from trusted others. A therapist, a bishop, a best friend, or a close family member can give insight to whether your boundaries are too weak, too rigid, or are appropriate. Because when a person has boundary problems, often they do not understand what is and isn’t healthy, reasonable, or appropriate on their own. Also helpful: learning about and studying healthy versus unhealthy boundaries. To begin, a number of decent articles on boundaries subject can be found on the Psychology Today magazine website:

Trust Problems

Trust problems tend to fuel boundary problems: the more trusting a person is, the weaker their boundaries will tend to be. Conversely, the less trusting a person is, the more rigid and firm their boundaries will tend to be. With a history of sexual abuse, victims tend to be overly trusting of others (when often they shouldn’t be) or underly trusting of others (when often they should be). In other words, too much or too little trust with others causes problems. When a person is too trusting, they put themselves in harms way and risk further hurt. When a person is not trusting enough, they trend to be especially suspicious of others and avoid getting close to others including missing out on many good, decent people who would have made for good associates.

Post-Traumatic Stress Symptoms

Sexual abuse usually includes some post traumatic stress symptom, perhaps even having Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”). A thorough review of all of the main traumatic stress symptoms a victim of sexual abuse may suffer is beyond the scope of this little article. However, in short, PTSD consists of symptoms like behavioral agitation, psychological anxiety, mood disturbances, sleep problems, intrusive thoughts/flashbacks, and emotional detachment. For more information to understand PTSD better, see:

Getting Help

The best treatment for sexual abuse is to receive psychotherapy from a qualified, licensed psychotherapist. Look for one who ideally has sexual abuse as a specialty they list on their website. Other options include self-help books, audios, or videos. A decent book on sexual abuse that you may find useful/helpful is The Wounded Heart: Hope for Adult Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse
by Dan Allender and Karen Lee-Thorp (2018). Some support groups can be helpful as well. And of course, meeting with bishops and getting spiritual support, guidance, and suggestions from them is also a good idea.

Final Thoughts

If you have been the victim of sexual abuse in any form and you still notice any of the symptoms previously listed, please get help from a psychotherapist and your bishop. Regularly work at these scars and pains without hoping simply that time would pass and healing would just happen on its own. That might be a very long wait. Instead, work at improvement. Be actively, assertively involved in your healing process. Remember the old saying “if it is to be, it’s up to me”. Be assertive with this issue and healing will be the natural result. The Lord wants you to overcome these feelings instead of just suffering, and you can. It will help you be more equipped and prepared for a future healthy, happy relationship. And remember, “…neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.”—1 Corinthians 11:11.

Dr. G
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2019-11-11 Randy Gilchrist Psychological health

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About the author

Hello, my name is Dr. Randy Gilchrist (aka "Dr. G"). I am a licensed clinical psychologist, a licensed marriage & family therapist, and a certified hypnotherapist in private practice in Roseville, CA (, practicing since 1997. Also, I am happily married in the temple (Manti) since 1996 and have 4 sons. I am a volunteer writer and contributor to LDS Dimension. I use my training, education, and experience to share insights with LDS Dimension on all things of interest to the LDS dating community. Please read my articles and columns on this site to assist you in your online dating journey. Also, to be considered for an answer in a future Q and A column, please email me your dating/relationship oriented questions to Finally, I also offer a powerful, effective worldwide custom hypnosis recording service just for LDS Dimension members for weight loss, pornography, and many other issues of concern to those in the LDS dating community (please learn more now at; email me questions to