Sexual abuse is the display of unwanted sexual aggression by a perpetrator. These abusive behaviors can vary from repeated sexual harassment to rape and molestation and can take place over years. It’s important to understand that anyone can be a victim of sexual abuse. Men, women, children, older adults, and heterosexual/LGBTQ individuals can all fall prey to a sexual predator.
Sexual abuse can be a silent epidemic, as cases often go unreported. Victims can feel a powerful sense of shame and may worry about the consequences of telling someone. Over time, however, the experience of sexual abuse can be psychologically debilitating. Complications can include depression, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and sexual problems in relationships. Victims often also find themselves battling with low self-esteem. They may blame themselves for what happened to them, or feel unloved and unwanted.
If you’re someone who has experienced sexual abuse, it’s important to consider therapy. Sexual abuse therapy can provide a safe space for healing, where survivors can express themselves without fear of judgment. In therapy, you can feel free to talk about what happened and how you feel about it. A therapist can encourage you to process a sexual abuse incident by listening with compassion or allowing you to tell your story through creativity, a process that can be very cathartic. He or she will also support you in taking positive steps in your life, such as being more social, applying for jobs, or practicing self-care.
If you’re considering therapy for sexual abuse, it’s important to look for a licensed therapist who is specialized in this area, as they will have had the relevant training as well as practical experience to promote healing. It’s also equally important to finding a therapist you’re comfortable talking to, and you can trust. You might also want to consider whether you’d like to participate in individual or group therapy. Group therapy can be particularly beneficial due to the healing power of shared experiences. Whatever you decide, the underlying therapeutic factor of sexual abuse therapy lies in building your ability to express yourself and learning to move on from a traumatizing and painful sexual experience.