How Child Sexual Abuse Affects School-Age Children

By the time I got to school, I’d learned to live in a fuzzy world where I daydreamed or simply disappeared inside myself any time life became stressful. This skill allowed me to survive a childhood of incest and confusion.

Most years my marks were mediocre. I never caused anyone any trouble, yet the teachers didn’t like me.  I wasn’t popular with the other children in my class either. Somehow I always felt different.

I daydreamed my way through grade two, the year my father came home from the war for good. Most of the time I imagined being the queen of the fairies. The plots varied but had one prevailing them: I was the beautiful, dearly loved queen who had the power to find answers to everyone’s pain (Does that sound like the makings of a psychotherapist?).

In my adult years I came across some old report cards from public school. Teacher after teacher remarked that I missed too many half days. Half days? I let my mind drift back to those early grades and recall how I would often stay home because I wasn’t feeling well. I wasn’t malingering. I really didn’t feel well. The centre of my body was a swamp of queasy, sick feelings. My head was fogged over. How could I face the demands of school with a dead head and a body carved out of rotting wood?

If I stayed home I could comfort myself by entering my imaginary realm where I was the queen of the fairies. There, with wisdom and sweet reason, I set about solving the problems of the other inhabitants of that world. Once we were all happy the swamp in my abdomen dried up and the fog in my head cleared. By afternoon I was well enough to go to school.


  1. Jennifer says:

    I have five children who suffered from sexual abuse at the hands of my sixth and youngest child’s father. The school is cold and seemingly uncaring. They do not understand my childrens’ difficulties in focusing on classwork or completing assignments or participating in general. They are very critical. My children are honestly doing the best they can, as am I. Why is there so little empathy and understanding in the school system? Do you know of anything I can do to help them to understand that it is not abnormal for them to be having a hard time?

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