Identification of child sexual abuse and prevention of psychiatric morbidity


  • Avinash A Desousa Department of Psychiatry, Lokmanya Tilak Municipal Medical College, Mumbai, India
  • Sagar B. Karia Department of Psychiatry, Lokmanya Tilak Municipal Medical College, Mumbai, India
  • Nilesh B. Shah Department of Psychiatry, Lokmanya Tilak Municipal Medical College, Mumbai, India
  • Amresh A. Shrivastava Department of Psychiatry, University of Western Ontario, Lawson Health Research Centre, London, Canada



Psychiatric disorders, Child sexual abuse, Depression, Suicide, Eating disorders, Lifetime


Child sexual abuse (CSA) is a hidden and under-reported problem in psychiatry. CSA has been studied in various epidemiological data based studies and has been found to be a significant risk factor for the development of psychiatric illness in later life. Depression, suicide and suicidal attempts as well as self-injurious behaviour have all been reported to be significantly greater in patients than have been exposed to CSA versus those who have not been exposed to the same. There are studies that demonstrate higher rates of substance abuse, body image disturbances, eating disorders and cluster B personality traits in patients that have been exposed to CSA. The paper looks at the available data on lifetime occurrence of psychiatric disorders in patients that have been exposed to CSA. The various mechanisms by which CSA exposure can lead to psychiatric disorders in adulthood are discussed and the need for identification, assessment and clinically evaluating the presence of CSA in patients in routine clinical practice is highlighted.


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