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Session Six - Childhood Sexual Abuse

Hello everyone and welcome to our Trauma support session. Today we will be discussing Childhood  Sexual Abuse. Trauma sessions will run at the same times each week and they are an opportunity for us to learn from and share with one another. Let’s remember to show kindness and support to others in the group at all times. If you need more support during this time, please connect 1-1 with a listener.


See this resource thread ( for coping if being triggered.


Everyone is welcome to share and participate as they would like, but we respectfully ask you to let everyone participate in the discussion as they are comfortable to do so.   Due to the nature of trauma discussion, please do not provide graphic details of your trauma to help prevent triggering others.


Reminder:  If you feel yourselves being triggered, remember it's okay to take a breather from the room and come back when you are feeling ready to.  Remember to use the link on grounding and if necessary, reach out for support to a listener. You come first and it's important to look after your needs!


Reminder if needed in discussion by leaders - To show respect to one another let’s keep this a safe, supportive space, remembering not to be too graphic to avoid triggering others, and focus on the current question so everyone feels included and involved.


Let’s start today with an icebreaker.  If you were a milkshake flavor, which one would you be?


Discussing childhood abuse may always be a tough topic for many of you to participate in. Please remember to take gentle care of you during this chat.  What are some positive and healthy ways you can take care of yourself, during this support chat, and in moments where you may find it hard to be here?


  1. Lets begin with what we consider to be sexual abuse.  How would you define sexual abuse of a child?


Sexual abuse has many contexts including sexual assault, rape, harassment and incest.

Sexual assault is unwanted sexual contact other than rape or attempted rape. Rape is sex with a person who is unable to give consent, for children they are legally unable to give consent to an adult. Harassment is aggressive pressure or intimidation  such as unwanted comments or advances. For children this is often referred to as grooming. Incest is sexual relations between those who are too closely related to marry. Child to child abuse is where a child enacts sexual acts that they may have been exposed to either through overt sexual contact or exposure to sexual content though pornography or via adults in their life.  Contact abuse involves touching activities where an abuser makes physical contact with a child, including penetration. Non-contact abuse involves non-touching activities, such as grooming, exploitation, persuading children to perform sexual acts over the internet and flashing


  1. What signs both physical and behavioural, do most people associate with a child being sexually abused.  If you feel comfortable, what signs do you feel were visible to others, that you yourself were being sexually abused that others should have seen or could have picked up on?


Physical signs: Bruises, Restraint or grip markings, Unusual pattern of injury; repeated trips to the emergency room.

Behavioural signs: Withdrawn,  suddenly behaves differently, flat affect, Anxious,  not wanting to be touched, Depressed, Aggressive, problems sleeping, eating disorders, wets the bed, soils clothes, takes risks, misses school, changes in eating habits, obsessive behaviour, Nightmares, Drug and alcohol abuse, Self-harm, thoughts about suicide.


  1. Children who have been sexually abused are often ‘groomed’ by the abuser beforehand, what kind of things does the abuser use to gain the trust of the child or adults in the child’s life?


The might look for children who have a strained relationship with parents, particularly on social media accounts. They befriend the child by acting the same age or as a ‘cool’ parent figure. They might give them things they want or make promises. They often want to take you out of safer spaces to isolate you. The relationship is often intense very early one as they try to become a staple person in your life/justify their presence to the adults in your life.


  1. When the abuse was occurring for you as a child, were you able to tell anyone?  If not what barriers prevented you from being able to do so? If yes, what support did you receive?


  1. What impact do you feel sexual abuse has on a child at the time whether they experienced overt or covert abuse?  For those of you who experienced sexual abuse as a child, how did you cope and was there anyone safe in your life at the time to whom you could turn to?  


Not wanting to be touched, flat affect, self esteem and self worth issues, self blaming, self harm, drug and alcohol dependency,Inability to form healthy attachments.


  1. How has the impact of child sexual abuse affected you now as an adult and especially with the way you feel about yourself and others around you? How do you feel your experiences have shaped who are you today?


Fear of intimate relationships, Inability to recognise and establish boundaries, getting into abusive relationships, promiscuity.


  1. Let’s explore some ways to overcome childhood sexual abuse. Talking about your experiences and your feelings can be helpful in accepting what happened to you. Have you managed to reach out to a friend/therapist or family member? If so, how did that feel for you?  If no, what prevents you from speaking out?


  1. Accepting what happened to us as children and expressing our feelings in a healthy way, is a really important part of learning to recovery from the sexual abuse we experienced as children.  What ways have you found that have enabled you to express healthily what you went through and what is your understanding of why it's important to find healthy channels for expression of the pain of what we experienced?


  1. Once we understand our experiences, we’re more able to recognise sexual abusive behaviours as an adult to prevent revictimisation. In addition to this, is working on our self worth and self esteem that was eroded away as a child.  This can help us to recognise redflags earlier on in future relationships if we find ourselves repeating history. What behaviours stood out to you when you were a child and what might that look like in an adult relationship?


  1. If we find ourselves in abusive relationships in the future, what can we do to gain safety for ourselves to prevent ourselves becoming a victim once more because we do not deserve to be hurt again?


Go to a shelter, download the aspire app, call an abuse helpline, learn how to spot unhealthy boundaries and learn to enforce healthy boundaries, understand what consent is.


  1. Generally it’s easier to give support and encouragement to others than to ourselves. If you could say anything to a survivor who has just disclosed they were abused as a child, what would you say?  What encouragement would you give to others on their journey to heal and recover from the effects of childhood abuse?


Thank you everyone for participating in this group support discussion.  If you would spend a minute filling in this feedback form, it would be most appreciated.  Thank you for being here and take care of yourselves.


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