Sexual abuse is a topic that is not talked a lot about. In fact, most people feel uncomfortable with the idea of discussing it, whether or not they have been directly affected. However, I believe that this type of abuse, like any other type, should be spoken about so that victims of sexual abuse can begin the healing process, and so that the general public becomes educated on the subject.
Victims of childhood sexual abuse often experience long-lasting effects of the incident. Sometimes the effects are not known for years, and suddenly surface at a later point in the individual’s life. In all cases, however, childhood sexual abuse negatively impacts its victims, either immediately after or later on in that person’s life. Attending Counseling for Sexual Abuse is the first step to healing and ridding yourself from the awful effects your past is having on your present.
Victims of sexual abuse who are children often feel like the abuse is their fault or was in some way caused by them. Being sexually abused by an adult also violates a child’s trust, making the child wary of adults in general, even though these are people that the child should be able to trust and count on.
The majority of sexually abused children report feelings of guilt and shame, as well as embarrassment and powerlessness. They often try to hide the fact that it happened to them, and either don’t tell anyone because they were threatened not to, or because they feel like it was their fault in some way and are too embarrassed. This suppression of emotions is not healthy and often childhood sexual abuse victims find that the feelings they have suppressed resurface later on in their lives.
Some of the long-term effects of childhood sexual abuse include the following (but not limited to):
- Low Self-Esteem
- Trust Issues
- Anxiety Disorders
- Sleep Disturbances
- Eating Disorders
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Substance Abuse & Addiction
- Relationship & Sexual Problems
How Sexual Abuse Counseling Can Help You:
To explain the above effects further, I will describe how therapy for sexual abuse can be helpful to a victim of childhood sexual abuse.
Mental Health: First and foremost, Sexual Abuse Counseling will reduce your susceptibility to anxiety anddepression – two common psychological disorders seen in victims of sexual abuse. If you think you already have depression or anxiety problems, then therapy is still beneficial, because you are treating the symptoms of a larger, underlying problem. Together during therapy, you and I will discuss your current symptoms and figure out a treatment plan that best suits you and your personal situation. There is no one right approach to Sexual Abuse Counseling. Each individual brings his or her own story to the table, and therefore treatment is situation-dependent.
Physical Health: Since sexual abuse usually causes no visible physical scarring, victims are often silent sufferers. However, the damage that sexual abuse does to a child mentally can be devastating and has the ability to cause several physical or psychosomatic ailments throughout the lifespan. Any unexplained aches or pains, as well as inexplicable, more serious health problems could indicate that your body is trying to tell you something. It may sound weird, but masking a problem as serious as childhood sexual abuse only makes matters worse in the long run. Eventually, your feelings and emotions about the traumatic event will present themselves. Sometimes this happens in the form of a mental breakdown, but most of the time it occurs as a physical illness to which a physician cannot determine the cause for. Sexual Abuse Counseling, which involved discussing your traumatic past, allows some of these repressed feelings to be released. Initially this may be difficult, but over time and once you begin to regain your trust in others, you will likely find that your physical symptoms are diminishing and that you are beginning to feel healthier.
Being sexually abused as a child usually leads to difficulties being intimate with your partner in the present. This is understandable, since as a child you learned that sex is not pleasurable and something that you have no choice over. Overcoming this is difficult, but indeed possible. As an adult survivor of sexual abuse, you may feel pressure to have sex with your partner, or feel the need to please him/her sexually. Remember: be your own person. Be strong and only do what you want to do and what is in your realm of comfort. If your partner does not understand that then he/she is not being supportive or considerate of your needs. You need to feel like you have some control over intimate situations. You need to feel as though you were part of the decision-making process when it comes to engaging in intercourse or other sexual play. Without this sense of control and power, you are essentially repeating the cycle and deepening the effects that the abuser had on you. To break free from this, you must have an understanding, loving partner. You must be able to trust your partner and feel comfortable with sharing your past with him/her. If your partner is understanding and loves you, then he/she will wait until you are ready and will not pressure you to do anything you are not comfortable with. You should be able to have a discussion about these things together, but if you feel as though you cannot, you can always come to Couples Counseling to speak about your concerns. Sometimes it helps to have a third party who is objective to listen and advise you on the situation. Whether you choose to do Individual Therapy or Couples Counseling for your sexual abuse, the therapy itself will help you to trust in your partner, and eventually be able to have an intimate relationship with him/her that is both satisfying and enjoyable for you as well as your partner.
If you were sexually abused as a child and are now noticing that it is affecting your daily adolescent or adult life, please give my San Diego office a call today for a consultation. With Sexual Abuse Counseling, I can help you to overcome your painful past and help get you to a point in your life where you can function happily and be mentally healthy. Your past does not have to define your future. With my help, you can break free from the tight hold that your devastating past has over you. It takes a lot of work, including having to re-live some painful memories that you may have repressed, but I will be there with you along the journey to help guide you on the road to recovery. Healing ispossible and you are not doomed to live your life this way forever.