Benefits Of Sexual Abuse Counseling
By: Sarah Fader
Updated June 15, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Stephanie Chupein
Benefits of Sexual Abuse Counseling
Content/Trigger Warning: Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that include sexual assault & violence which could potentially be triggering.
Counseling requires you to dig into the deepest parts of yourself and tackle difficult subjects as you aim to heal and free yourself from the issues at hand. However, once you are given the proper tools and help to heal your wounds, moving forward becomes less of a burden and more of a blessing. Among some of the more difficult topics to discuss is sexual abuse, which many may avoid in an attempt to leave these problems behind. However, blocking painful memories can cause long-term damage, such as amnesia.
Sexual assault is a serious subject, and childhood sexual abuse can be repressed in a person for a long time. Some people don’t even talk about childhood sexual abuse, or child abuse until later on down the road. But, discussing it is a way to heal, and seeing someone to help you face this time in your life can be very helpful, and it can change your life. While you might’ve met with a sexual assault forensic examiner during the moment it happened, those memories linger in your head, and that pain doesn’t always go away. If you suffer from sexual assault, those memories eat away at you, and it's traumatic.
Sexual abuse can have a huge impact on a person's mental health. Whether the incident recently occurred or happened 20 years ago, victims experience the psychological effects of sexual abuse. The ramifications of sexual abuse include anxiety, depression, trust issues, lower self-esteem, feelings and thoughts of shame and guilt, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), fluctuations in mood, periods of intense anger, dissociation with feelings, self-destructive behaviors, and more. If this goes untreated, the effects can last for months or even years.
Sexual assault, along with childhood sexual abuse, both can create issues in a person’s life, both temporary, and even long after the sexual assault happened.
Childhood sexual abuse is a serious subject because many children don’t recognize the sexual violence that occurred. Because of this, childhood sexual abuse is oftentimes repressed until later on in life, and this can cause trauma for an adult.
This is why it is of the utmost importance to receive professional help as soon as possible. With the right counselor, you will be able to work through the trauma of sexual abuse and remedy the symptoms that have developed as a result of it. No matter what you believe, you are capable of change and deserving of happiness.
Counseling someone through sexual violence instances in their life isn’t easy. In fact, it can be very stressful, especially for those who have tried to repress the sexual violence for a long time. But, survivors of sexual abuse need to know that they’re not alone.
With counseling, survivors of sexual abuse are able to face their pasts and learn to move forward. That isn’t to say the sexual violence isn’t okay, as it never is, but survivors of sexual abuse can learn to progress in life in a way where they’re not at the mercy of those instances, and it can make it easier to move forward.
Many People Receive Help for This (and You Can Too)
Every 98 seconds, a person in the United States is sexually assaulted, with nearly 32,000 victims of sexual abuse every year in America. Although being sexually abused can feel like an isolating experience, you are not alone, and this is especially true in regard to the support that you can receive for your experience. If you have been sexually abused, help is out there to help you work through and overcome these issues. But what exactly can sexual abuse counseling provide?
Sexual violence is a serious subject, and survivors of sexual abuse feel alone in this. while more and more survivors of sexual abuse are coming forward with their stories, counseling helps a person talk about it.
Many have experienced sexual abuse, whether it be when they’re an adult, or when they’re a child. Family therapy can help those who are victims of sexual abuse, and it can help iron out issues within the family.
Some Benefits of Sexual Abuse Counseling
You Will Develop Self-Love Behaviors and Routines
When you attend psychotherapy sessions or talk with a licensed mental health professional online, it's much easier to begin the healing process. This means that you will learn and develop a variety of self-care strategies and tactics to aid you throughout your daily life. These strategies can help when a person who has suffered sexual abuse feels overwhelmed with thoughts about the previous incident and its related ebbs and flows of emotions.
One of the most significant benefits of sexual abuse counseling is that it can help you feel better about yourself again. The experience of sexual abuse can often leave survivors with negative thoughts and beliefs about themselves. A therapist can work with you to affirm you and to unlock new feelings about yourself so that you can begin to focus less on the past and more on a brighter future. The intense feelings that survivors experience can often leave them feeling trapped in a cycle of depression, anxiety, and other negative emotions as well. With the proper help, you can begin to find a new identity and create space to gain greater fulfillment in your life. Family therapy can help those who have families, but have sexual abuse sexual trauma, and other issues which are plaguing them. Counseling new people trough the abuse they suffered can help immensely.
Sexual Abuse Counseling Will Help You Get Your Feelings Out
Some victims of sexual abuse bottle their emotions up so that they can ignore them and function. The solution? Many mindful and experiential techniques during therapy can immensely aid in the recovery process. This includes learning to meditate, writing in a journal, creating a piece of art, and more. A sexual abuse survivor could be struggling with feelings of numbness, fears of intimacy with a current partner, shame for "allowing the incident to happen", and more. While it could be challenging to face internal emotions, using these emotions for something positive also helps with self-love and recovery.
Many survivors of sexual abuse who finally face their painful emotions, although challenging, can achieve a sense of liberation and peace. Expressing your emotions can be the beginning of taking back what sexual abuse has taken from you and other survivors. Sexual abuse can lead to survivors having difficulty expressing and validating their own thoughts and emotions. Sexual abuse counseling can help survivors to express and value their own emotions again, and talking to a therapist that can help you validate your emotions can significantly boost your confidence.
You'll Build a Network of Others Just Like You
In a group therapy session, you will realize that you are not alone in facing these experiences, thoughts, and emotions. You can talk with peers and the moderator about what is going on inside your head and in your own life. This can help you to manage guilt, shame, and other emotions associated with sexual abuse. Sharing your story could help you throughout the healing process, and it could even help someone else too.
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Seeing other survivors who are overcoming similar challenges with sexual trauma can be empowering and give you a new sense of hope. Talking with others who have experienced the pain of social abuse can be an essential part of the healing process for many people. Survivors of sexual abuse may sometimes feel responsible for their abuse. Hearing the experiences of other survivors can help you recognize that abuse can happen to anyone and that what happened to you is a reflection of your abuser, not yourself. Family therapy is good because it can help you with issues related to the family, and family therapy can also tackle how the assault affects their ability to connect with others.
It Creates Greater Self-Awareness
The impact of sexual trauma runs deep. It impacts the way survivors see themselves, others, and the world around them. Survivors will often develop defense mechanisms that may have been helpful during the time of the abuse but have become very problematic when it comes to fostering happy and healthy relationships. Many survivors of sexual abuse become vulnerable to unhealthy or abusive relationships in their future. Others may become guarded and have trouble trusting and letting people back into their lives. Gaining a greater sense of self-awareness can allow survivors of sexual abuse to recognize how specific thoughts and behaviors may be impacting their current relationships and mood. Self-awareness can enable survivors to identify and implement tools to effectively cope and manage emotions and triggers related to the abuse that may surface in the other relationships in their lives.
It Can Give You Knew & Healthy Ways to Cope
Many sexual abuse counselors will pull from a variety of treatment modalities such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavior Therapy to help survivors of sexual abuse gain skills that will allow them to successfully manage how they feel about the abuse. Survivors of sexual abuse may suffer from triggers that bring up intense emotions related to the abuse. A sexual abuse therapist can give you tools that will allow you to self-sooth and manage emotions in effective and constructive ways. Skills such as mindfulness or distress tolerance can help survivors eliminate emotional suffering from their lives.
It Allows Healing
Sexual trauma can lead to painful emotions like anger, guilt, and shame. It is important to not only express these emotions but also to begin the process of healing the wounds that allow these emotions to fester inside. Sexual abuse counseling can help you rebuild a new perspective on life. After facing their emotions, survivors will then have the opportunity to challenge the way they see themselves and foster new hope for their futures. Your future does not have to be defined by your past. If you need help taking back your life after experiencing sexual abuse, speaking with a counselor is an effective tool to begin your own healing process. Those who were abused as children might find it harder to heal, since that trauma has been there. But anyone, whether they experienced adult sexual violence or were abused as children, can learn to heal, and that’s a big part of it.
How to Find the Strength to Seek Help
Seeking help for the sexual abuse you have experience can be very difficult, and you may need to build up your strength and courage in order to seek the help that you want. If you are in need of some support, here are some tips that will help you get into your first counseling session.
Trust the Process
Counseling is highly-recommended because it is effective. When you seek out counseling, you can trust that you are going to be listened to and understood, and will be able to share your story in a safe space free of judgment. Better yet, it will give you the tools you need to heal and help yourself when you are especially in need of it.
Accept Your Desire to Receive Help When It Is Time
We all know when we are ready to heal. There's a strong desire within ourselves to reshape our lives. The way that we think may have been damaged as a result of the trauma we experienced. Once you make the decision to seek help, you've already won.
Try other Types of Therapy
There are other kinds of therapy which can help you overcome sexual trauma.
For starters, if you suffer from sexual assault trauma that affects your ability to have sex, sex therapy can help with those instances. Sexual abuse, sexual violence, and other problems that cause issues with your ability to have sex can be tackled through sex therapy, and that is something which can help you connect better with others and learn to let go of the problems as well. Child sexual assault can create issues in adults who were abused.
For many adults who were abused, they’re scared of sex because of the child sexual assault they suffered. But through sex therapy, it can get talked out, so they can feel better about that part of their past.
Couple’s counseling helps with this too. If your partner knows about your past abuse, then maybe couples therapy is the answer. Couples therapy can help tackle the abuse and get to the bottom, so you feel less scared of sexual activities in the future.
Art therapy is another.
Art therapy can help those who have experienced sexual abuse because it lets them communicate through art the trauma associated with sexual activity. If they were abused as children, they can use art therapy to work it out, and it can help with those who have experienced sexual abuse, including those who experienced childhood sexual abuse.
Talk therapy is great too. With talk therapy, you can discuss sexual issues, including issues involving sexual activity. Sexual issues, including sexual dysfunction and the like, can be talked about. With a counselor, you can tackle these sexual issues in a healthy manner. If you experienced childhood sexual abuse, or adult sexual assault and have turned to drug abuse to cope, drug and alcohol counseling can help too, since it can help you get to the bottom of why you abuse those substances, and how to overcome addiction and substance abuse.
Making It Easier With BetterHelp
Getting face-to-face counseling can be intimidating for some people. If the anxiety of this encounter is holding you back from beginning your journey, you may want to pursue another form of counseling where you can meet with a therapist through a phone or a computer. You can receive this kind of counseling by reaching out to a service like BetterHelp. BetterHelp's licensed counselors are available to you from the comfort and safety of your own home (or wherever you have an internet connection). Besides reducing your anxiety, this also gives you more freedom in your schedule and makes it so that you don't have to travel in order to get the help you need. If you want to see how well BetterHelp counselors can help you, take a look at a few of the reviews listed below, from people experiencing similar issues.
"Christina has been so extremely helpful for me. She has guided me to better myself, to build a strong foundation, helped me know my self-worth, and to know that I am an individual and strong by myself. She has helped me process and move past my traumas. Because of her guidance, I am a 10x better version of myself."
"I was very hesitant to try therapy online. I have found Matthew Jones to be a great therapist and resource. I appreciate his ability to discuss issues that make me feel really vulnerable. He is very professional and has given me great insights and resources that provide me with the tools to cope with the things in my life."
Sexual trauma can be hard to confront, but once you are free of it, you'll be able to live your life without anything holding you back. Use the guide above to learn more about what you can expect when you seek out sexual abuse counseling and the benefits of doing so. No matter what you've gone through -- you can move forward to a safe and healthy life. Take the first step today.