Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Long-term impacts of child sexual abuse

New research released today shows child sexual abuse has significant lifelong negative impacts for survivors, affecting their behaviour, relationships, mental health and physical health, and increasing their likelihood of addiction.

The Australian Institute of Family Studies research report, The long-term effects of child sexual abuse, by Associate Professor Judy Cashmore AO and Dr Rita Shackel of the University of Sydney, analyses the findings of Australian and international studies to provide a picture of how child sexual abuse can affect people over their lifetime.

Evidence examined in the report found that people who were sexually abused as children are more likely to develop mental health issues, including major depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia.

Child sexual abuse is also associated with increased risk of a range of physical health problems, dependency on alcohol and drugs, and contact with the criminal justice system.

Both female and male survivors can suffer severe long-term effects of childhood sexual abuse but there are some gender differences in their experiences. For example, research suggests boys and men are less likely than girls and women to tell anyone about being abused.

This Government believes every child has the right to grow up safe and strong and recognises the terrible lifelong consequences of child sexual abuse.

That’s why the Government established the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

The Royal Commission, led by Justice Peter McClellan AM, will inquire into how institutions with a responsibility for children have managed and responded to allegations and instances of child sexual abuse and related matters.

It will be able to hear stories from survivors whose lives have been gravely affected by the experiences they lived through because systems and institutions failed to protect them as children.

This Government will do everything it can to make sure that what happened to children in the past is not allowed to happen again, and is committed to doing everything it can to help survivors of past abuse receive support and justice.

For more information on the Royal Commission call 1800 099 340 or go to

For a copy of the report, visit