Do you feel like you’re being pulled apart on the inside just hearing that April is Sexual Awareness month? Or perhaps, just the words “sexual abuse” sends you into feelings of panic or anxiety. If you’ve ever experienced sexual abuse, even as a young child, this month might be very triggering for you. Please know, that as impossible as it may seem to ever be back to “normal,” you’re not alone and you’re certainly not destined to live the rest of your life this way. Healing and feeling whole again is absolutely in your reach.
The unfortunate consequences of unhealed child sexual abuse, as mentioned in Hailes et al.,’s (2019), are a worldwide concern that is connected to a huge range of problems. Childhood abuse increases the risk of mental health issues, physical illnesses, and risky behaviors often leading to depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and relationship problems.
Sadly, survivors also experience guilt, shame, and self-blame. Unfortunately, they tend to assume some responsibility for the abusive incident(s). They may, therefore, struggle with their self-worth and adopt negative beliefs about themselves. Phrases such as, “I’m not good enough,” “I’m used goods,” or “I’m too much to handle” may ring true to them.
There Is Room for Healing
My heart goes out to anyone who has been sexually abused. No matter how it played out, what happened to you is wrong and you’re not responsible in any way. For you to find your wholeness, it’s important and even necessary to be able to talk about and process what has happened to you in a safe space. When you’re ready, I encourage you to seek out counseling to end the pain and suffering and find your light again.
The counseling relationship provides a safe and non-judgmental space necessary for your healing. Often times, feelings of fear, anger, or vulnerability may understandably hold you back from talking about your sexual abuse. Thus, especially at the beginning of therapy, the focus will be on building a trusting and safe connection to help you share your experiences and feelings that arise as you tell your story, as difficult as that may be.
Therapy will also help you learn to reframe your thoughts and feelings, approaching them with compassion. You’ll find ways to define your rights and needs and express them. Through the counseling process, you’ll gain confidence and develop or enhance a positive view of yourself, sex, and sexual intimacy. With a more empowered and confident you, you’ll also be able to learn and cultivate skills to build trusting and safe relationships with others.
If you’ve been weighed down about what has happened and you are finally ready to heal and find some peace from your past, don’t hesitate to reach out for help.
If you’d like to learn more, please feel free to contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 224-800-1139.
*Please note that the abuse that you experienced does not have to necessarily be sexual in nature for you to reach out for counseling.
Hailes, H. P., Yu, R., Danese, A., & Fazel, S. (2019). Long-term outcomes of childhood sexual abuse: An umbrella review. The Lancet Psychiatry, 6(10), 830–839. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2215-0366(19)30286-X