In severe cases, damage to internal organs may occur, which, in some cases, may cause death.Various studies have suggested that severe child sexual abuse may have a deleterious effect on brain development. (1998) found "reversed hemispheric asymmetry and greater left hemisphere coherence in abused subjects;" Teicher et al.
In a 1998 review of related literature, Martin and Fleming state "The hypothesis advanced in this paper is that, in most cases, the fundamental damage inflicted by child sexual abuse is due to the child's developing capacities for trust, intimacy, agency and sexuality, and that many of the mental health problems of adult life associated with histories of child sexual abuse are second-order effects." Kendler et al.
The American Psychological Association states that "children cannot consent to sexual activity with adults", and condemns any such action by an adult: "An adult who engages in sexual activity with a child is performing a criminal and immoral act which never can be considered normal or socially acceptable behavior."A study funded by the USA National Institute of Drug Abuse found that "Among more than 1,400 adult females, childhood sexual abuse was associated with increased likelihood of drug dependence, alcohol dependence, and psychiatric disorders.
The associations are expressed as odds ratios: for example, women who experienced nongenital sexual abuse in childhood were 2.83 times more likely to suffer drug dependence as adults than were women who were not abused." Child abuse, including sexual abuse, especially chronic abuse starting at early ages, has been found to be related to the development of high levels of dissociative symptoms, which includes amnesia for abuse memories.
Non-validating and otherwise non-supportive responses to disclosure by the child's primary attachment figure may indicate a relational disturbance predating the sexual abuse that may have been a risk factor for the abuse, and which can remain a risk factor for its psychological consequences.
Asa Don Brown has indicated: "A minimization of the trauma and its effects is commonly injected into the picture by parental caregivers to shelter and calm the child.