Sexual Abuse: Survivors


It is estimated that the prevalence of sexual abuse ranges from one in three to one in five (McEwan, Man, & Simpson-Housely, 2002). Now to think about that, one in about four! 1  out of 4, there are a whole lot of people who have been affected by sexual abuse.

There is hope and healing from this intimate violation!

When we think of individuals who have been in this situation we commonly refer to them as victims of sexual abuse. Current practice has changed that description.  Survivor is the favored word used now because the unsaid meanings we attach to the words change the way we feel and what we mean. The word victim implies the feeling of powerlessness and in contrast the term survivor implies a strength through adverse circumstances.

Survivors commonly experience long-term effects after an abusive encounter. Those effected by sexual abuse can be affected for the rest of their lives if left without professional help and supportive resources. Many experience depression, trust issues, guilt, difficulties with intimacy, and increased sexual dysfunction.

Sexual abuse can lead the survivor to feel stress, anxiety, and display signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  Another common effect of being sexually abused has to do with interpersonal relationships. It is more likely that the survivor was abused by someone that they knew and trusted. Having someone break this trust will cause many difficult relationship issues in the survivors future. These relationships could be romantic in nature, but it often effects friendship as well.

Survivors commonly engage in avoidance behaviors. The survivor may lack the ability to trust others, it might be very difficult to have a depth of relationship with others. Another way for the survivor to cope is with the use of drugs or alcohol. It is dangerous to cope with emotions with drugs and alcohol. You may become addicted to using these substances, and avoid managing their feelings. Avoidance grows fear.

Sexual abuse is not a topic many people like to think or talk much about, but it is a reality. It happens all around us, and being aware of its prevalence is the first step.

Therapy is effective in helping you heal! This part of what got me into my profession. I was convinced that nothing could take away that type of pain and that “talking about it” was going to help nothing. So, I began researching like crazy. Talking about it in ways that the brain recognizes it is safe and respected are vital. There are also several trauma recovery options that are highly effective.

It IS possible to recover from abuse and sexual abuse!

There is hope and healing waiting for you and those you know who have been exposed to sexual abuse. Real healing is a real possibility! If this is a desire or concern for you please call 507.351.8799


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