Sexual assault, whether it was one instance or you’ve endured years of abuse, affects you at the very core of your being. That’s where sexual abuse therapy can be so valuable.
The experience shapes your perspectives, can lead to trauma symptoms, and affects how you interact with the world. An abuse history makes it hard to form relationships with other people. You develop trust issues. And , the guilt and shame associated with sexual abuse can plague you.
Without addressing them at the core, all these issues can cause enormous struggles in life.
Please, be assured that healing the trauma of sexual abuse is possible. First and foremost, it’s important that you understand the abuse was not your fault at all, even if part of you feels that way. With the support and guidance of a good trauma therapist, you can work on your recovery.
Let’s consider some issues that are connected with sexual abuse and how therapy can help you.
Maintaining Healthy Relationships
For so many people who were subjected to sexual abuse, forming and maintaining healthy relationships is a real struggle. If the trauma occurred when you were very young, you might not have any idea as to what a healthy relationship should look like. And so, you can become stuck in a cycle of painful or traumatic relationships.
Abuse is centered around power and being in control of someone else. A healthy relationship is all about acceptance, belonging, and understanding. Yet, if you have been subjected to abuse, it can be hard to understand those concepts.
Knowing You Are Worthy of Love
Another issue with sexual assault is guilt. You feel guilty that the abuse occurred and believe that, for some reason, it was your fault. This, in turn, feeds shame. Shame is a very powerful emotion—even more so than guilt. You may be ashamed that you were in that position, “allowing” the assault to happen.
Also, you likely have parts of you that don’t believe that you are worthy of being loved. Yet, that’s not true at all! You are definitely worthy of love. In fact, you deserve it! But the emotional burden you continuously carry makes it very hard to heal from the trauma.
Typically, when you have experienced sexual abuse and trauma, you hesitate to trust others. You might be lucky in that you have a friend or family member you can rely on. However, trusting new people is often the biggest problem.
Perhaps you don’t believe that they are being sincere or genuine and you might think they have an agenda. Or worse, that they are a threat. When you have this mindset it’s hard to make new connections or build healthy relationships. That’s because when you are on alert for any potential danger, you’re unable to open yourself up to new people.
It’s that vulnerability that is key for forming relationships of any kind. But the trauma from sexual abuse makes it nearly impossible to allow yourself to be in such an exposed position.
How Can Sexual Abuse Therapy Help?
The aforementioned issues are incredibly difficult obstacles, but therapy can help you overcome them. Step by step, therapy can help you to trust others again and, for perhaps the first time in a long while, form meaningful relationships.
In time, you’ll be able to give yourself permission to be loved and accepted for who you are. That’s a really powerful step because it’s so crucial in being able to connect positively with others.
Maybe you’re hesitant about participating in therapy. You may have tried it before and it didn’t work. Don’t be discouraged, though. Sometimes, traditional talk therapy just isn’t enough to get to the heart of the issue. And you may need more advanced tools.
Neurofeedback and EMDR Therapy
Two methods of therapy that have proven very powerful with trauma are neurofeedback and EMDR therapy. Both use the innate abilities of your brain to heal itself and are natural, drug-free treatment approaches.
For instance, neurofeedback uses real-time information about your brainwaves to teach you how to cope with trauma responses. In this way, you learn to coach your brain to respond differently in certain situations. Through consistent repetition, you’re conditioning your brain to automatically seek these responses by itself.
With eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), you are addressing the memories of the abusive and traumatic situations that occurred in your life. The goal is to put closure to those traumatic memories, using both cognitive coaching and reprocessing the memory. That combination has a powerful effect on your brain to help heal the trauma.
Sexual abuse therapy has the potential to give you your life back after sexual assault. It can help you to finally realize that you are more than the sum of your trauma. Please, contact me if you would like to know more about my approach to trauma therapy.