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Archive for February 16th, 2011

A reader asked me to write about dealing with Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) that were contracted from childhood sexual abuse. The reader said that she has not seen this topic covered in the blogs she follows and wonders whether she is the only child abuse survivor dealing with this issue. I assured her that she is not.

Years ago, I was a guardian ad litem for an elementary-age child who contracted an STD. Because a child generally cannot contract an STD without being sexually abused, the State got involved, and I was called in to represent the child’s interests. While other evidence of sexual abuse might be able to be explained away, it is pretty hard to get around the evidence of sexual abuse when a child has an STD. It might not tell the “who,” but the “what” is undeniable in most cases.

If you do a Google search of STDs and child abuse, you will find numerous articles about children contracting STDs from being sexually abused. Sadly, children have no say in using condoms during the sexual abuse. Many child abusers have multiple sexual encounters with multiple people (I won’t say “partners” because a child is never a willing “partner” in sexual abuse), which puts the child abusers at a higher risk of contracting an STD which, in turn, can be passed along to the child. Some STDs are incurable, so the child must deal with the STD the rest of his or her life.

My partner over at Adoption Under One Roof has been a foster mother for many years, and she says that some children enter the foster care system already infected with an STD. This is a common issue that the foster care system and foster parents deal with. When you are the one who has been hiding the fact that you have an STD from childhood, you might feel shame in being the only person to have had an STD like herpes since you were eight years old. You are definitely not alone. Only a small percentage of sexual abuse survivors ever enter the foster care system, and enough of them have STDs in childhood for the State and foster parents to have to know how to deal with it. Statistically, a percentage of child abuse survivors who never entered the foster care system have STDs from childhood as well.

The same reader asked me to address how to discuss STDs and a history of child abuse with a potential partner. I will address that in my next blog entry.

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Photo credit: Hekatekris

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