In today's society of open communication, there are few topics people are hesitant to discuss. From politics to transgenderism, it seems nothing is off the table. Unfortunately, one subject that typically remains tabu is sexual abuse. Even among the safety of family and friends, survivors of sexual abuse often refrain from confiding in others for fear of judgment, or simply because reliving the abuse is too painful. As a result, survivors can descend into depression, question self-worth, develop food or chemical addictions, and even become at risk for suicide. Moving forward after sexual abuse is perhaps one of the greatest challenges one can face. Fortunately, you are not alone.
Most Sexual Abuse Victims Know the Perpertrator
For a victim of sexual abuse, one of the more difficult aspects can be the nature of the victim's relationship with the abuser. Statistics show that in the U.S., 93% of victims know the perpetrator. These abusers often play a trusted role in the victim's life, being a relative, teacher, family friend, or even a member of the clergy. Certainly, being abused by a trusted adult results in confusion. A child subjected to such abuse may question what he or she did wrong to invite the abuse. The victim may experience self-blame for not being able to stop the abuse, and feel shame if they experienced physical pleasure.
Dealing With the Damage of Sexual Abuse
As an adult, although the abuse may have ended, the resulting damage is difficult to mend. Memories may haunt you, becoming more prominent at night, leading to fear and difficulty falling asleep. A fear of trusting others can lead to few close relationships, culminating in a life of isolation and sadness. If the abuse was your first experience with sex, the result may be difficulty with intimacy, and even consensual sex with a loved one may trigger painful flashbacks. For many victims, a life of loneliness may seem to be their only choice.
Because many survivors of sexual abuse have kept the abuse a secret for so long, talking to anyone about it is a frightening prospect. The effects of sexual abuse do not end with the abuse, and can in fact create a growing sense of anger and self-loathing with the passage of time. While the feelings of isolation can grow, survivors need to know they are not alone. In fact, there are over 42 million survivors of childhood sexual abuse in the United States.
Recovering From Sexual Abuse
Fortunately, sexual abuse counseling is readily available, and can help you move toward peace and empowerment. After so many years of holding your feelings inside, the thought of sharing your past with someone else may be intimidating. You may believe you should be strong enough to "get over it" on your own. Perhaps you feel weak because you haven't been able to fully move on with your life, and even tell yourself it's foolish to dwell on something that happened so long ago.
The other end of the spectrum is utter hopelessness. Some victims feel as though they are "damaged goods," can feel worthless, and believe they will never have a healthy relationship with themselves or others. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Licensed, Professional Therapist
I am a licensed, professional therapist, who has specialized in sexual abuse counseling for over 30 years. With patience and sensitivity, I will guide you through the counseling process, and help you open up and clear your mind, heart, and soul, of the negative emotions you have been holding inside. Sessions can consist of talking in a quiet office setting, or absorbing the tranquility of the countryside during "Walk and Talk Therapy," a unique form of counseling.
Putting you at ease is one of my first priorities. I realize the difficulty of talking about sexual abuse, and will work with you to find your comfort zone. The goal is to help you let go of the anger, guilt, and sadness that plague you. There is no need to live a life stunted by what happened in your past. Re-discovering your self-worth and living life to the fullest is your right.
If you are ready to move forward with your life, contact me for more information. I offer a free 15-minute phone consultation, where we can discuss our services, and help you find what you're looking for. I truly am looking forward to helping you begin your journey.