It is estimated that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men were sexually abused as children prior to their eighteenth birthday. Left untreated, the wounds of incest/sexual abuse can permeate every area of the adult survivor’s life. He or she may suffer from any number of residual symptoms including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, extreme trust issues, chronic physiological symptoms and somatic complaints, a history of pseudo neurological problems, obsessive/compulsive disorder, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) including flashbacks and/or nightmares of the abuse, dissociative disorders, anger issues, addictions, codependency, sexual dysfunction, and relationship issues.
These are only a few of the numerous symptoms that survivors often develop and silently struggle with as adults, the same way many of them silently struggled from the abuse they endured as children. Adolescents who have been sexually abused often present with any or all of the above symptoms along with age specific acting out such as running away, substance abuse, gang involvement, oppositional defiant behavior, conduct disorders, truancy, and juvenile delinquency.
Because incest and sexual abuse in childhood most often happens at the hands of a trusted adult, the child is left with an inability to make sense of the events. Children are not yet capable of abstract thought and do not have the ability to understand that good and bad can happen at the same time. As a result, they often internalize the shame and blame for the abuse because they see the trusted adult caretaker as good and are forced to see themselves as somehow bad.
Children are never at fault. They are victims of adults who take advantage of their innocence and prey upon their vulnerability. It is not uncommon for survivors to have had more than one perpetrator, or to have been a victim of rape in their adulthood. Adult rape victims are also never at fault. Sexual assault, regardless of the age of the victim, is a crime of power that takes the form of a sexual violation.
Childhood sexual abuse is not always violent and may be coupled with nurturing and playful games or seductive grooming activities that any child would take interest in. This becomes further confusing for the child. Some children are threatened and warned not to tell. Others just automatically keep the secret. Some try to tell and are not believed or misunderstood. Some are able to tell and experience the result of telling as chaotic when they are thrown into the legal and therapeutic systems designed to protect them. These kids are then made to tell their story over and over and may be shuffled around in foster care and may have to witness the arrest of their perpetrator.
Regardless of the individual circumstances, survivors of incest/sexual abuse often carry scars into their adulthood that can affect every area of their lives. They are often wounded physically, emotionally, socially, mentally, and spiritually. Healing from childhood sexual trauma needs to occur on all these levels for the adult to be able to let go of the past and move forward in his/her life.
If you were sexually abused as a child, it is never too late to seek help. You deserve to heal and live a happy and fulfilling adult life free from the traumas of your history. At Veritas Counseling Center, the therapist has over 35 years of clinical expertise and is highly skilled at creating a safe and nurturing environment that allows clients to heal from childhood sexual abuse and move forward in their adult lives. The therapist is also a survivor herself, and as a result of her own healing, she gently and appropriately blends together her personal recovery with her professional training and skill in a way that allows clients to safely and effectively heal and move beyond survival mode.
Individual, group, couples’ and family therapy are all available as appropriate in each individual case. In addition, occasional weekend intensive workshops and retreats are offered for survivors. To be added to the mailing list for information about upcoming weekend intensive workshops and retreats sign up using the form on the retreat page.
For notice of openings for group therapy participants, sign up using the form on on the groups page. A women's sexual abuse recovery therapy group is being formed now. Space is limited. Call today.
Treatment includes psycho-educational techniques designed to teach clients about specific symptoms and strategies for dealing with triggers, flashbacks, dissociation, emotional flooding, emotional numbing, etc., and also knowledge and tools for developing healthy coping skills, healthy sexuality, and healthy relationships. Various treatment methods utilized may include cognitive therapy techniques, imagery, inner child work, gestalt parts work and empty chair work, psychodrama techniques, transactional analysis education and skill building, art therapy, EMDR, Thought Field Therapy (TFT), various methods from DBT, and other trauma resolution techniques. When appropriate, adjunctive Equine Assisted Psychotherapy is also available.
The therapist at Veritas Counseling Center is also an author and offers free recovery tips for survivors as well as messages of hope from recovering survivors. For this month's tips, or to post your own message of hope, visit www.survivorssuggestions.com
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Veritas Counseling Center, LLC • 3240 E Union Hills Drive, Suite 123 • Phoenix, Arizona 85050