Many adult survivors aren’t aware that their life-long struggles are directly related to past sexual abuse. Betrayal may also be felt when a child has been abused by a relative or friend (or from a non-abusing adult who did nothing to protect the child).
This often leads to feelings of loss and grief toward caregivers—which may later transcend into fear of intimacy and mistrust of self and others.
When children are sexually abused, they feel powerless (with significant gender differences). While boys tend to deny the idea of powerlessness and believe they could have fought back, girls feel guilty for keeping the abuse a secret. Some sexual abuse survivors become passive and experience difficulty making decisions, while others exhibit aggressive, controlling behaviors to overcompensate for feeling so powerless. As a result, the child feels stigmatized by the abuse and may believe they were at fault because their abuser either blamed them or threatened to tell their parents. When an abused child has been frightened into silence, years of unspoken shame and guilt often cause them (as an adult) to re-victimize, punish and abuse themselves with alcohol, drugs, promiscuous sex and gambling—or even with self-mutilation and suicidal thoughts.
How do you begin to heal from sexual abuse?
Because it’s vitally important for abuse victims to learn and heal from their trauma, through counseling I help them:
- Tell their story
- Believe it DID actually happen
- Understand the abuse was NOT their fault
- Deal with (and process) their feelings of hurt and betrayal
- Realize how the abuse has affected their lives
- Correct distorted thinking and behaviors
As we work together to identify these thought processes, I help survivors realize how these painful childhood events have shaped their distorted (and negative) view of themselves as adults.
Once sexual abuse survivors become more aware of how (and why) they’ve developed these false self-perceptions, they can begin refocusing toward a new, healthier self image.
If you (and/or or someone you care about) need help healing from sexual abuse, please reach out to Tracy Crain.