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Sexual Abuse Counseling and Treatment

Sexual Abuse Counseling and Treatment

Sexual abuse can happen to anyone. Sexual abuse is any sexual activity that is forced, pressurized, or deceived upon a child, man, or woman. Overwhelmingly, in most cases, it is usually that the victim knows the abuser or perpetrator. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Centre, 1 in 5 women in the United States (US) experienced sexual assault during the course of their lifetime. Also, nearly a quarter of men experienced some form of sexual assault in their lifetimes.

Sexual abuse leaves lasting trauma to those who have been sexually abused. People who have been abused may wish to consider therapy to work towards healing.

How Common Is It?

Sexual abuse is common and impacts many individuals worldwide. Around 1 in 5 women (18.3%) and 1 in 71 men (1.4%) in the United States have been raped at some time in their lives. More than half (51.1%) of female victims of rape reported being raped by an intimate partner and 40.8% by an acquaintance; for male victims, more than half (52.4%) reported being raped by an acquaintance, and 15.1% by a person unknown to them. As we can see from these statistics it is very common and is usually committed by people that are known to us.

According to the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN), a person is sexually abused in the US every 73 seconds. The long-term effects of sexual abuse can include many emotional, physical and psychological conditions. It has such a lasting impact on the wellbeing of victims and can impact victims in many ways including:

Feelings of guilt, shame and self-blame Psychological flashbacks of the traumatic event and feeling hypervigilant Fear and distrust towards others Isolation and/or loneliness Denial Feelings of anger and feeling overwhelmed Self-harm and destructive thoughts

Signs of an Abusive Relationship

An abusive relationship is a relationship that often consists of abusive patterns of behaviour in an attempt to coerce or control an individual to control them to behave in certain ways. Abuse can be physical, emotional, sexual or financial and may include threats, isolation, intimidation and manipulations. Abuse does not just contain physical abuse and it comes in many forms. Abuse usually increases over time and with abusive events taking place more often and usually intensifying.

Psychological and emotional abuse: abusers often undermine the victims self-esteem and self-worth by letting them know how worthless they are which then leads to feelings of shame, self-blame and not feeling good enough. This then sends the message to the individual that they deserve to be treated in this way. Abusers may gaslight an individual into questioning their own sense of reality.

Physical abuse: an abuser may physically abuse their victim in many ways including pushing, hitting, punching, biting, slapping or forcefully restraining their victim as a way of punishing them. A victim may try to disguise the physical signs of abuse such as bruises, cuts and wounds by hiding them or letting other people know that they have fallen over or walking into an object.

Using children against the victim: the abuser may attempt to use the children in the relationship against the victim and inform them that they may take the children from them or inform the children of deceitful information as an attempt to further isolate the victim.

Threats, manipulation and intimidation: an abuser may exercise coercive control over a victim and may try to threaten the victim with threats to manipulate them into staying with them or acting out the type of behavior they want to see. These forms of abuse are attempts to control the individual by using intimidation. It usually means the victim is feeling fearful of leaving due to the negative consequences that may occur in their lives.

Financial abuse: an abuser may attempt to financially control the victim and reduce their access to finances causing them to feel very vulnerable, isolated and with nowhere else to turn.

Healing From Emotional and Physical Trauma

Firstly, it is not your fault. Every human should be able to live in an environment free from abuse. Treatment options consist of talking to a trusted adult if you are a child or perhaps talking to a friend and receiving treatment from a licensed mental health professional can really help you to move forward and begin to heal from the emotional and physical trauma that sexual abuse contains.

The Psychological Symptoms

The psychological symptoms vary, they are highly individualized and complex and may include feeling anxious, depressed, isolated, lonely, experiencing post traumatic stress disorder and victims may withdraw socially from others. Victims may even develop substance abuse issues to cope with the psychological pain they are experiencing and they may develop other maladaptive coping skills to try to psychologically numb themselves for example, self-harm.

Child Sexual Abuse

Research from the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) suggest that the Child Protective Services (CPS) receives evidence of childhood sexual abuse every nine minutes. This is a highly concerning statistic to show the extent that childhood sexual abuse occurs. 66% of childhood sexual abuse victims are aged between 12-17 with 34% of victims being aged under 12 years of age.

Helping Survivors Move Forward

It is possible to move forward from sexual abuse and feel empowered throughout the traumatic experience to begin to take steps forward to feeling better.

Online therapy will support you in your mental health journey through the first steps to coping with the aftermath of sexual abuse in a way that works for you. 7 Cups is an on-demand emotional support platform and a caring and thriving community of people that support one another. The 7 Cups Community has helped over 60 million people in emotional distress since 2013. The community is available globally in 189 countries and 140 languages. We provide 1:1 free support sessions with a trained listener, personalized growth paths to help you feel better and online therapy with licensed therapists. Therapists can provide you with expert treatment and guidance on how to better cope with the effects of sexual abuse.