Mental Health Support for Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse
If you are a victim of childhood sexual abuse, know that it was not your fault.
Childhood sexual abuse is common. Although the exact prevalence is not known, it is estimated that every eight minutes, a child is sexually assaulted. Moreover, nearly 93% of children know the perpetrator. Shame and stigma prevents many adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse from disclosing the incident. Incest once considered rare, occurs with alarming frequency. Of all the girls who experienced sexual abuse, 65% girls report being abused more than once, 57% report that the abuser was a family member and 53% report that the abuse occurred at home.
No matter what, the abuse was never your fault and it is never too late to start healing.
What are the effects of childhood sexual abuse on adult survivors?
Women who have experienced childhood sexual abuse may have a range of short term and long term effects like-
We remember trauma less in words and more in feelings and in our bodies.
The first “step” to recovery is actually a ” giant leap”. You can reach out for help to a trusted friend , a family member or join a self help recovery program or join a therapist for guided professional help.
Can I handle the memories of abuse effectively to resolve the emotional problems of adulthood? If the answer is a NO then you should consider meeting a professional.
Choosing a Therapist. Just like any other profession therapists may have variable experience handling complex trauma. Check the credentials,training and experience of your therapist. You should be comfortable with the pace and progress of your therapy.
What about confronting my abusers? This is a very difficult question and one that you can only answer. For some survivors an internal resolution of the pain and trauma via therapy may defer the need for a confrontation. For others a direct confrontation, either face to face or on email or phone, for still others a self disclosure in public speaking, in articles or stories helps. Some also resort to legal action. Confrontation is usually a difficult task while legal discourse inherently adversarial in nature and interferes with recovery as it brings back flashbacks and painful memories to the forefront of consciousness. For this reason, you should weigh the consequences of each pathway and see whether you are sufficiently grounded to handle the pressure and stress before starting confrontation with the abuser.
Therapy Process. Therapy for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse is a step by step process of remembering, mourning and healing. Several therapeutic approaches are available such as Trauma focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy,