What Does CSA Stand for In Mental Health?

Mental health, which is a person's state of mind, can be affected by many things, including stress, trauma, and stigma. However, a common and major cause of the problems is CSA. But what is CSA, and what does it stand for in mental health?

CSA stands for Childhood Sexual Abuse, which is an interaction between a child and an adult sexually. It has the most impact on mental health and can be severe if not addressed. While it’s common in both genders, women are more likely to be the victims.

According to a psychology journal, between 20% and 40% of people with mental health have a history of CSA. In this article, you will learn more about CSA, its effects on mental health, and possible treatments.

What Does CSA Stand for In Mental Health

 What Does CSA Stand for in Mental Health?

Mental health affects how a person handles stress, relationships, and makes choices. While it’s crucial for every stage of life, many things can affect it, resulting in mental illnesses. Among the causes of mental health problems is CSA, which happens to victims at a young age.

The abbreviation CSA in mental health stands for childhood sexual abuse. It's a trauma related to a sexual act that happened to a victim at a young age. Most CSA cases are not reported, which is why most victims develop mental health problems in the future.

This abuse is most times done by people related to the victim or those they trust. As a result, victims do not dare to report. Also, among the few cases reported, only a few result in charges against the abuser. In other cases, CSA happens through exploitation for money, food, or shelter.

The following table contains summed-up facts on CSA according to recent research.

Between 8 – 31%Girls are victims of CSA internationally
Between 3 -17%Boys are victims of CSA internationally
1 out of 10Children are victims of CSA before 18 years
Approximately 93%Are known to the victim
2 out of 3 VictimsAre between ages 12 - 17

How Does CSA Affect the Mental Health of the Victims?

Victims of CSA often develop physical and emotional damage from the abuse. Without guidance, the problem can worsen and affect their future mental health. The following are some effects CSA has on the victims' mental health.

  • By Making The Victims Develop Low self-esteem

Low self-esteem is when a person lacks confidence in themselves and feels inadequate. Most victims feel like they could have done better and blame themselves. Esteem and pride are among the characteristics of strong mental health that the victims lack.

  • By Creating Trust Issues

Most times, the victims of CSA lose trust in anyone and develop trust issues. Working with or for someone with trust issues can be difficult, which is a reason for their poor performance in life.

  • By Making The Victims Depressed

Depression takes away the joy needed for positive mental health. The victims are most times feeling sad and uninterested in life.

  • By Making The Victims Anxious

Victims of CSA are likely to get anxious, especially when they see a person who resembles their abuser. This interferes with their mental health by creating fear and panic.

  • By Promoting Aggressive Behaviors

Most CSA victims are likely angry with themselves, their caregivers, or the abuser. Anger leads to aggression, which can lead to violence and crime. According to research, 80% of women in prisons have suffered from SCA.

  • By Creating Relationship problems

CSA affects the victim’s ability to trust any person leading to relationship problems. Research shows approximately 17 percent of CSA survivors can form and maintain a positive relationship.

Which Mental Health Problems are CSA Victims Likely to Develop?

Child sexual harassment is most likely to develop into a mental disorder with time. These disorders are mostly countermeasures by the victims to deal with the effects. The following are some of these mental health problems.

  • PTSD

PTSD stands for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Most victims of CSA are likely to be traumatized shortly after trauma or years later. It is estimated that one in every three victims develops PTSD.

  • Eating Disorders

Some victims of CSA can develop disordered eating as a coping mechanism. Research shows that about 30% of people with eating disorders are victims of CSA.

  • Dissociative Disorders

Most CSA victims also like to develop a dissociative disorder, which is a disconnection from surroundings, memories, and actions. The common dissociative disorders are:

  1. Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)
  2. Dissociative Amnesia
  3. Personalization/Derealization Disorder
  4. Personality Disorder

Personality disorders are more likely in CSA victims, signified by erratic behaviors, distrust, and mood swings. Among the most common personality disorders are:

  1. Borderline personality disorder (BPD)
  2. Antisocial Personality disorder
  3. Substance Use Disorder (SUD)

Child sexual abuse victims are also likely to engage in substance use as a coping mechanism. With time substance use gets out of hand, developing into a substance use disorder. Research shows that female CSA victims are three times more likely to develop substance use problems.

What are the Mental Health Treatments for CSA Victims

The earliest and most effective treatment for CSA victims is psychotherapy. Psychotherapy involves talking to a therapist or a psychologist to evaluate and treat mental health. This therapy appears to work on most victims experiencing mental health symptoms and reduces negative consequences.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy is also an effective treatment for PTSD, especially if caused by CSA. This is because the therapy focuses on traumatic events to provide treatment. Besides, this therapy is effective in short and long-term PTSD treatments.

What Ways Can CSA Victims Prevent Mental Health Problems

Seeking help from a specialist is always the best step in dealing with mental health problems related to CSA. However, some ways a person can do self-care to avoid negative mental health damage. These ways include:

  1. Speaking out, especially to a professional about the event can help against negative thoughts. While most victims can take years before disclosing their abuser, the earlier you do, the sooner the recovery.
  2. Overcome self-blame, which can result in low self-esteem. This might be hard, especially for those who have anger against the abuser or the abuser, but can be done.
  3. Control eating problems by engaging in other healthy recovery activities. Overcoming any coping mechanisms requires the person to be over the trauma done by visiting a professional.
  4. Allow yourself to trust people, especially in a relationship. However, create boundaries since most CSA victims are more likely to be abused again in adulthood.
  5. Learn your triggers and avoid them by giving yourself some time off. 
  6. Confide in someone you can trust, which can help you feel better. Emotional support from family and friends is a positive boost during recovery.


CSA in mental health stands for child sexual abuse, which is among the reading causes of mental health problems. Research shows as much as 40% of people with mental health problems are victims of CSA. CSA can also affect the mental health of the victims in many ways, including lowering their self-esteem and trust.

The best form of recovery is through psychological or mental health evaluation by a professional. If you or your friend are victims of CSA, it’s best to seek professional help sooner to prevent mental health problems. Also, there are many hotlines you can call for help related to CSA.

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