Share your survival story

Getting professional help

Signs of an adult survivor
Long term effects
Reasons for different effects of sexual abuse on individual victims
Getting professional help
The therapeutic process
Treatment strategies
Reinterpretating the sexual abuse experience from an adult perspective
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Why it is necessary to get help
Because society is willing to accept the prevalence of sexual abuse, survivors feel they can admit abuse and seek help more freely. Effects can be corrected and changed and the survivor can proceed to live a happy and fulfilling life.
It is necessary for survivors to resolve the issues of anger, blame, guilt and other feelings engendered by the abuse in therapy, thereby enabling them to become a survivor rather than a victim. Victims are often unaware of the effect the abuse has on their behaviour. Victims need to know that sexual victimization may at the root of many of their problems. Resolving abuse issues will help relieve the ensuing problems.
Finding a therapist
A child abuse victim needs to find a therapist who is experienced in dealing with the dynamics of sexual abuse and who therefore won't be shocked or critical of what they reveal. Often survivors don't obtain help because they feel guilty or shameful or fear a negative reaction. Therapists who react negatively only reinforce these feelings. Therefore it is important to find a therapist who is nothing less than supportive and accepting.
The content of therapy
A therapist will focus on improving a clients self-image and working through the old and persistent feelings of anger and guilt. The therapist will teach the survivor that the abuse was 100% the fault of the perpretator. The offender is always the guilty party, not the survivor. A child victim has no knowledge of what is sexually expected of them and is completely unable to consent to the abuse knowledgeably.
Survivors may block sexual abuse completely out of their minds and "forget" it because the experience was so painful. Sometimes a client will go to psychotherapy for reasons other than sexual abuse and flash back and slowly start remembering. When memories begin to surface the survivor goes through a period of denial. The therapist must  allow the client to fully recognise the abuse and work on the disclosure in their own time. The survivor needs to learn that a sexual relationship can be positive and that being sexual is an integral part of a person.
The most important concept is that the survivor must believe and understand that sexual experiences enhance an individuals life, rather than causing trouble and anguish. A therapist who has a positive outlook on sexuality can be a powerful role model for the client. It is necessary for the survivor to accept the reality of the sexual abuse and not deny that it happened.
The client needs to realize and take pride in the fact that they have coped with and survived a very damaging experience since childhood and has dealt with all of the problems it created. They need to be told to take pride in their ability to survive.
Survivors need to understand that therapy and dealing with sexual abuse issues fells good sometimes and at other times feels painful. Healing emotionally takes time and practice and may involve much pain.

(Drauker, 1992)