Counseling and Enrichment Center - O'Neill, Norfolk, Verdigre, Sioux City, Kearney, Northeast Nebraska

Mary Rose Wattier MSE, LIMHP, LADC, CPC


Mary Rose has acquired her Bachelor of Arts in Education and her Master of Science in Education specializing in both School and Community Counseling.


Mary Rose has 20+ years experience working with domestic violence and sexual assault victims; men, women and children.  She has worked with Probation and Parole clients including court approved mental health and substance abuse evaluations, one on one mental health and substance abuse therapy, anger management, dual-diagnosis disorders therapy, sexual assault therapy, adult survivors of childhood sexual assault and group facilitation. She has extensive experience presenting at colleges, high schools, law enforcement and civic groups on various topics. Her work experience and areas of interest include: Reactive Attachment Disorder, Depression, Bipolar, PTSD, Adjustment Disorders, Abandonment issues and Addictions.  


Mary Rose also has experience in Family Counseling and assistance in filing for Domestic Violence Protection and Harassment orders.

All the following information comes from The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC)

How do you define child sexual abuse?

There are 2 different types of child sexual abuse. These are called contact abuse and non-contact abuse.

Contact abuse involves touching activities where an abuser makes physical contact with a child, including penetration. It includes:
  • sexual touching of any part of the body whether the child's wearing clothes or not
  • rape or penetration by putting an object or body part inside a child's mouth, vagina or anus
  • forcing or encouraging a child to take part in sexual activity
  • making a child take their clothes off, touch someone else's genitals or masturbate.

Non-contact abuse involves non-touching activities, such as grooming, exploitation, persuading children to perform sexual acts over the internet and flashing. It includes:
  • encouraging a child to watch or hear sexual acts
  • not taking proper measures to prevent a child being exposed to sexual activities by others
  • meeting a child following sexual grooming with the intent of abusing them
  • online abuse including making, viewing or distributing child abuse images
  • allowing someone else to make, view or distribute child abuse images
  • showing pornography to a child
  • sexually exploiting a child for money, power or status (child exploitation).

Sexual Abuse

A child is sexually abused when they are forced or persuaded to take part in sexual activities.  This doesn’t have to be physical contact, and it can happen online,

Things you may notice


If you're worried that a child is being abused, watch out for any unusual behavior. 
  • withdrawn
  • suddenly behaves differently
  • anxious
  • clingy
  • depressed
  • aggressive
  • problems sleeping
  • eating disorders
  • wets the bed
  • soils clothes
  • takes risks
  • misses school
  • changes in eating habits
  • obsessive behavior
  • nightmares
  • drugs
  • alcohol
  • self-harm
  • thoughts about suicide

 
What research tells us about the effects of child sexual abuse 

Children who are sexually abused experience a range of short and long-term symptoms. Research often focuses on physical signs and symptoms but it’s often the emotional and psychological effects that cause more harm in the long term.

NERVOUS SYSTEM

 Alexander (2011) calls sexual abuse a "chronic neurologic disease" and discusses how the effects create decades of negative consequences for victims. The consequences of child sexual abuse can include depression, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress and an impaired ability to cope with stress or emotions (Allnock et al, 2009).

SEXUAL HEALTH

Child sexual abuse can have a more fundamental effect on brain functioning, where a child's brain becomes damaged by the abuse they have suffered (Mizenberg, Poole and Vinogradov, 2008). The effects of sexual abuse can include dissociation, memory impairment and reduced social functioning (Whitehead, 2011).

SELF-HARM

Self-blame, self-harm and suicide are commonly mentioned as consequences of sexual abuse. A study by Calder (2010) found participants sexually abused in childhood were more than twice as likely to consider committing suicide in later life. Being sexually abused as a child, especially when that abuse is not discovered, can lead to confused ideas about relationships and sexual behavior. 

Sexual abuse can also have physical consequences for children, from sexually transmitted diseases to pregnancy. These physical effects add to the significant emotional and psychological damage inflicted by the abuse (Whitehead, Children who are sexually abused can be manipulated by their abuser to believe that the abuse is their fault. The feelings of shame and guilt that come from the abuse can reduce the likelihood of that child telling anyone about the abuse (Allnock, 2009).

Being sexually abused as a child, especially when the abuse is not discovered, can lead to confused ideas about relationships and sexual behavior.

Some people block out the abuse – meaning that they don’t remember parts of their childhood. It can also lead to symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. If a child doesn't tell anyone about the abuse, if it isn't discovered or when children don't receive the right kind of help and support, the damage can last a lifetime (Goodyear-Brown, 2012).

Regularly asking children and young people about their wellbeing gives them the space and opportunity to tell when they are ready (McElvaney, 2015).

GETTING HELP

Children who are sexually abused can be manipulated by their abuser to believe that the abuse is their fault. The feelings of shame and guilt that come from the abuse can reduce the likelihood of that child telling anyone about the abuse (Allnock, 2009).

Being sexually abused as a child, especially when the abuse is not discovered, can lead to confused ideas about relationships and sexual behavior.

Some people block out the abuse – meaning that they don’t remember parts of their childhood. It can also lead to symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. If a child doesn't tell anyone about the abuse, if it isn't discovered or when children don't receive the right kind of help and support, the damage can last a lifetime (Goodyear-Brown, 2012).

Regularly asking children and young people about their wellbeing gives them the space and opportunity to tell when they are ready (McElvaney, 2015).

 Adults who were abused as children

Children who have been abused or neglected may experience physical or emotional harm. The effects can be short term but sometimes they last into adulthood. If someone has been abused as a child, it is more likely that they will suffer abuse again. This is known as revictimization.

Long term effects of abuse and neglect include:

  • emotional difficulties such as anger, anxiety, sadness or low self-esteem
  • mental health problems such as depression, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), self-harm, suicidal thoughts
  • problems with drugs or alcohol
  • disturbing thoughts, emotions and memories that cause distress or confusion
  • poor physical health such as obesity, aches and pains
  • struggling with parenting or relationships
  • worrying that their abuser is still a threat to themselves or others
  • learning difficulties, lower educational attainment, difficulties in communicating
  • behavioral problems including anti-social behavior, criminal behavior.

Mary Rose Wattier MSE,LIMHP, LADC, CPC

maryrose@counselingec.com | 402-337-1276