Leandie Buys Realtionship Therapist & Clinical Sexologist

The Effect of Childhood Molestation on Adult Relationships

Childhood molestation has a significant impact on a victim’s relationships later in life. Although the issue may be dealt with through counselling at a young age, people often experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) when they enter into intimate adult relationships.

Childhood molestation causes the victims to build emotional barriers between them and anyone they have a relationship with.

Shame and guilt 

In an intimate relationship between a couple where one partner experienced childhood molestation, this partner may feel such shame and guilt about their past that they find it impossible to tell their partner about the molestation.

When the partner keeps the molestation a secret, the other partner will not be able to understand their behaviour, and may feel deep rejection when their lover has no interest in sexual intimacy.

This is most common when the molested child was victimised by someone very close to them – whom they trusted.

Trust issues 

In an adult relationship, the molested partner then compares their intimate relationship with their lover to the relationship they had with their molester. The comparison is either conscious or sub-conscious but it has a significant effect on the relationship between the couple particularly in the area of trust.

Dealing with the abuse will help free victims from their molestors 

Working through the emotional, physical and psychological scars that childhood molestation leaves is extremely difficult, and survivors often find it easier to bury the memories instead of dealing with them.

Unfortunately, survivors who never deal with the molestation will remain victims of the molestation for the rest of their lives, with the memories and emotional baggage following them into adult relationships.