People Bounce Back: Study Finds Most Childhood Victims of Sex Abuse Thrive As Adults

People are more resilient than we think, and that’s a good thing.

A new study shows that 65% of adults who were victims of sexual abuse as children now exhibit complete mental health, a number far larger than expected.

Esme Fuller-Thomson, Director of the Institute for Life Course and Aging at the University of Toronto and lead author of the study, defined as being happy or satisfied with life most days in the past month, having high levels of social and psychological well-being in the past month, and being free of mental illness, suicidal thoughts and substance dependence in the past year.

While great news, the study also shows that victims of child abuse lag the general population, where 75% of people exhibit complete mental health.

Co-author Deborah Goodman, director of the Child Welfare Institute, Children’s Aid Society of Toronto, said:

“Having a confidante was found to be the second-strongest single predictor of complete mental health, increasing the odds of past-year complete mental health nearly sevenfold.  Given the importance of family and social support systems, brief interventions to address trauma post-experience and bolster social and familial support are also called for.”

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