Sexual Abuse Survivors

Sexual Abuse Survivors (It happened to her/him)

What is sexual abuse?

Sexual abuse involves any unwanted sexual attention or contact.  It can range from showing children sexually explicit pictures through to unwanted touching and sexual intercourse.  Sexual abuse can happen to children and adults of all ages and backgrounds, both male and female.

If someone you care about has been sexually assaulted you may be feeling

Angry, frustrated helpless, not sure of what to do next, unsure of what to say, shocked, or sad along with many other feelings and emotions.

If someone you care about has been sexually assaulted they may be feeling angry: why me? Fear: can he/she still hurt me? Guilt: If only I had…  Ashamed: Did I provoke it?  Betrayed: I knew and trusted him/her.  Damaged: I’ll never be the same.

They may be experiencing flashbacks: Intrusive memories of the abuse.  These can be very vivid and frightening.  Panic attacks: Moments of intense fear.  Can happen anywhere, anytime.  Nightmares.  Dislike of touching or sexual contact: They may avoid touching, switch off during sex or avoid being sexual altogether.  They may also feel their only value is sexual and seek affection through sexual contact.  Difficulty trusting you or others: Sexual abuse is a very traumatizing experience.  Survivors endeavor to cope in many different ways, some of which include drug and alcohol abuse, eating disorders, self-harm or isolating themselves. 

How can I help? 

Talking about the abuse can be difficult for a survivor at any stage of their healing.  There is no right thing to say or do, however it is important how you react as this can affect how they feel about themselves and their recovery.

Do’s

Believe them and what they tell you.  Allow them to express their feelings. Listen to them when they want to talk.  Reassure them that it wasn’t their fault.  Support them in seeking help to heal.  Respect the time and space it takes to heal.  Encourage them to see professional help with someone who deals with sexual abuse.

Don’ts

Don’t be judgmental: they may cope in ways that are hard for you to understand.  Don’t sympathize with the abuser…EVER.  Don’t ignore what’s happened.  Don’t try and take over and make decisions for them (unless they are children for which you will need to do whatever needs to be done to protect them). Don’t blame them.  Don’t pressure them to be sexual before they are ready (spouse).

Note

Sexual abuse can happen to both sexes no matter what age they are from infants to elderly people, and perpetrators come in all ages and sex.  Many who should love us and protect us end up being the very ones who hurt us the most.  Although sexual abuse does happen from people we don’t know…most sexual abuse happens by people we do know.  Pay attention to how people treat your kids or you even.  Something’s begin very innocently and many times people just don’t know it is happening.  One parent might be  harming the child/ren and the other person really doesn’t know that is happening because perpetrators use ever trick in the book to keep it a secret.  Just beware of what is going on in your family or with other family.  Don’t jump to conclusions but beware! 

 

 

Sexual Abuse Survivors

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