Childhood Sexual Abuse

by Samantha De Bono

Sexual abuse is an abuse of power and trust and happens far more frequently than was once believed.

Children look to adults or older children for guidance and assurance, to be shown right from wrong and they place all their trust in that person(s). Unfortunately there are times when that trust is abused and children are manipulated into sexual situations, either by being told that it isn't wrong or that it is just a way of showing love. There are also situations when children are told that bad things will happen if they don't do as they are told and it isn't unusual for threats or bribes to be used to maintain compliance. Grooming is another way in which abusers manage to get a child to do what he/she is told, this is done insidiously by spending time and effort on the child, gaining his/her trust.

Often the victim/survivor of sexual abuse is confused about their feelings, they may feel they "asked for it" and blame themselves for what happened, this is because the abuser has manipulated him/her into thinking this.

As a result of childhood sexual abuse, the victim/survivor is left to pick up the pieces of their life and try to function normally from day to day. This can be made impossible if there are feelings of self-blame, self-loathing, anger, confusion, shame, depression, anxiety, panic attacks or flashbacks. It is not unusual to suffer with intrusive thoughts or memories, to cry for what seems like no reason, to self-harm by cutting or burning, or behave recklessly with your health.

Counselling is a way in which you can start the healing process in a confidential, safe environment, working through the effects of your childhood sexual abuse with the support and understanding needed to acknowledge what happened to you. It isn't a quick process, but eventually, you will reach the stage where it no longer controls your life, moving on to living in the present with a view to a brighter future.