The journey after sexual abuse
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Beverley Chambers Qualified Counsellor, Relationship Issues - Reg. MBACP
1st July, 20160 Comments
Survivors of sexual abuse often suffer in varying degrees long after the abuse stops, but it is important to understand that it is never too late to begin healing. Many adults that have suffered from child sexual abuse encounter a range of short and long term effects throughout their lives, and knowing what some of these things are can help you to realise you are not alone, and that there is a way to overcome your past.
It is not uncommon for adult survivors to feel shameful about the circumstances surrounding their past, feeling guilt and blame is also very common. Maybe it is guilt because you didn’t speak up sooner, or you blame yourself for the actions you took, but you should know that the person that hurt you should be held responsible for their actions, not you. Abusers will often emotionally abuse their victims as well as physically, belittling them with an attempt to make them feel worthless, and often they succeed in this. For this reason many sufferers of sexual abuse will struggle with self-esteem issues and this can greatly affect different areas in a person’s life; from relationships and work to health and well-being.
In many cases the perpetrators of sexual abuse are people that are in a position of trust. For this reason, trust can be an ongoing issue throughout adult life, with intimacy being a struggle at times. It is possible that the survivors first sexual experience has been a result of sexual abuse and therefore consensual experiences as an adult can bring on painful flashbacks or memories.
It can be very difficult for a survivor to speak openly about their abuse, and they can carry the memories with them for a long time without speaking to anyone at all. It is not uncommon for effects to occur years after the abuse has ended. Some survivors may even subconsciously suppress their memories for many years before they resurface.
Sexual abuse can often continue on into adulthood, such as with those that remain in the family home or those still under the guidance of an abuser. This is less talked about but is very much a reality in some instances.
Other very common experiences that can arise after abuse is suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety, addiction, self-harm, OCD, attachment disorder, anger, eating disorders, dissociation, PTSD, and insomnia.
If you or someone you know has suffered from sexual abuse, with the right help and support these issues can be addressed and you can begin to heal.
About the author
I have worked for 18 years as a counsellor addressing issues such as depression, anxiety, trauma, sexual abuse, relationship issues, addiction to alcohol, therapy groups, family issues. My qualifications are; diploma in counselling and group work, DipSW, alcohol counsellor, life coach, certificate family support therapy, NADA auricular acupuncture.
Related articles from our experts
- What is abuse?
Mick Green MBACP, FDAP, BA (Hons), PGDip10th October, 2017
- Recognising problems with power and control
Eugene Gallagher BSc (Hons), MBA, MA, MBACP4th October, 2017
- Emotional, psychological abuse – How your self-esteem can be affected
Balwinder Hunjan BSc (Hon) Dip Counselling Psychology Registered MBACP29th September, 2017
- Seeking counselling after sexual violence
Nicola Griffiths BACP Dip in Counselling BA Hons in Social Studies30th June, 2017
- Male survivors of sexual abuse
Innershifts8th March, 2017
- Normal responses to abnormal situations
SUSAN STUBBINGS Counsellor & Counselling Supervisor, Adv. Dip. Reg MBACP20th January, 2017
Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.