Normal responses to abnormal situations

In recent years, the media quite rightly, has highlighted historical childhood sexual abuse which has been raising awareness. The magnitude of offences perhaps beyond belief for some. It happened - its true! 

All this media attention however can have an adverse effect on victims by triggering their memories, they may come to feel they have an obligation to tell their own secrets because others have.

Victims can be left feeling pressured from all angles.

The dilemma - to tell or not to tell?

Remember - you have a choice. That choice is to speak or not speak out. To whom, when, what and how you speak, do not feel ‘pressured’, feel you ‘must’ or ‘should’ tell because others have.

The effects of experiencing sexual abuse as a child for both male and female victims can last a lifetime.

The child is left with a complex mix of feelings swinging on the pendulum of emotions, sometimes from one extreme to the other. Sexually abused as a vulnerable child robs children of their innocence, intimacy with self and others, their right to a safe, secure, free of fear and protected childhood.

Robs the child of trusting self to handle life’s conundrums, the world, the people in it, halts the child’s trust in love, joy, beauty, robs their curiosity, wonder and halts questioning, introducing them to the world of adulthood long before their psyche can process such thoughts, feeling and sensations. 

Robbing the child of having a natural progression through life's, ‘what ifs’ and ‘what might have been’, can dominate adult living, helps to keep them stuck in unhealthy emotional cycles, patterns and skewed perceptions. 

Let’s be clear, children are not responsible for what adults choose to feel, think, say or do. Children are not responsible for the behaviour of adults.

Sexual abuse is traumatising, leaving the child with hurt, pain and confusion, they reach adulthood faced with major life decisions, procrastinate, engage in co-dependant or dependant relationships. The child’s self-worth, self-esteem and confidence replaced with terror, fear, denial, self-doubt, weak or none existent boundaries; grow up feeling different to others; unable to cope with what life throws at them, unable to ask for needs or wants fulfilment or feel believed by others, unable to believe in self, perhaps going from one trauma to another.

Many children will develop complex post-traumatic stress disorder CPTSD and post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD. The younger the child when the abuse started, the more likely the child will have utilised dissociation to cope.

Instilled into the child unfounded blame, shame and guilt blocking the adults healing path. Feelings may be repressed, painful memories buried but leak out in so many unhealthy ways, affecting relationships with others and self, perhaps feeling this is all you are worth.

It’s not - you are normal.

You survived the worst, now find your best! Because you matter - I believe!

If you are reading this because you are a victim, you can make a difference to your life - now!

Healing one step at a time, with an experienced counsellor.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Doncaster, South Yorkshire, DN4
Written by Susan Stubbings, CPCAB Coun.Adv Dip+Supervision Adv L6 Cert. MBACP (Accred)
Doncaster, South Yorkshire, DN4

Known as Sue, I work as a BACP registered counselling therapist in and around Doncaster, South Yorkshire. Experienced practitioner advocating for self-awareness, emotional mastery, connection and personal peace.

Passionate about empowering people to heal, build resiliency and maintain healthy emotional, psychological and spiritual inner worlds.

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