Sexual abuse occurs when sexual behaviour is forced upon an adult or child without their consent. It can include physical sexual violence or non-touching behaviour such as being forced to look at sexual parts of the body, sexual acts, videos, pictures and being forced to listen to sexual language or receiving intrusive questions in person or online.
The mental and emotional effects of this can be significant and long lasting. People can react in a variety of ways including experiencing shame, guilt, anger, rage or fear. They might experience flashbacks, nightmares, hyper vigilance, anxiety or depression – it really does effect people in a variety of negative ways.
What is most important is that survivors of sexual abuse are supported and helped in their recovery. Fear can prevent many people from disclosing sexual abuse, whether that is from the perpetrator themselves (many are known to their victims), society or a legal system that is often stacked against them. Opening up about their experiences and accessing support are key to recovery. If you have concerns about a loved one, asking them directly can provide the relief they need to address it. If you notice a change in behaviour such as anxiety about specific people, places or situations that they didn’t have before, it is a firm prompt to ask them how they are and if they are troubled by anything or anyone.
Psychotherapy can help survivors to identify and understand their emotions, develop coping skills and work through the trauma experienced. As integrative therapists various therapeutic methods are often used depending on the needs of the person and the issues that they are experiencing.
Psychotherapy can also address any resulting issues such as addiction, relationship challenges or suicidal thoughts. It may take time but integrative therapy is a very effective treatment for survivors of sexual abuse, helping them to move through trauma and into a more positive place.
IAHIP Psychotherapists are trained to help people to heal from Sexual Abuse. You can search the IAHIP Psychotherapist Directory for this particular issue or any of the issues that may have developed from these changes.
On the Directory page, simply type the issue into the ‘Areas of Interest’ Box:
For more information on this issue, you can access articles from our professional journal - Inside Out. Go to the top left of this website page and enter ‘Sexual Abuse’ into the search box.