Sexual Abuse

The evolution of societal attitudes has highlighted a growing awareness around the issue of childhood sexual abuse.

Childhood sexual abuse is widespread and is found at all levels of community, statistics show that 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 10 boys may be sexually abused in childhood and in 90% of cases, the offender is known to the child

Stuart’s intention is to provide a safe environment that enables the client to tell and integrate their experience, by finally getting in touch with emotions and facilitating the release of pain.

Some of the ways that sexual abuse can impact on upon a person’s life are as follows:

The victim

The child victim is subjected to characteristics that feed on and promote one another.

1)             Secrecy, and

2)             A power differential that relates to the victims helplessness

Three other consequences can then ensue:

1)             entrapment and accommodation

2)             Delayed, conflicted and unconvincing disclosure

3)             Retraction

The climate of fear, isolation and reality distortion created by the offender equates to there being no safe place for the child and is a blow to their construction of the world as a safe place and their sense of others as trustworthy, in order to survive the child must develop survival strategies, “an abnormal response to an abnormal situation-is normal”.

The child can experience devastating and long term consequences affecting all levels of functioning, physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. (Bradshaw, J. 1990). Suggests that sexual violation inflicts spiritual wounding more intensely than any other kind of violation.

Here is a model that lists the potential consequences of how C.S.A. can impact the child well into adulthood having an influence on both psychology and behavior.

Traumatic Sexualisation

  • Increased salience of sexual issues
  • Confusion about sexual identity & norms.
  • Confusion of sex with love and caregetting / care giving
  • Negative associations towards sexual activity and arousal sensations
  • Aversion to sex or intimacy

Betrayal

  • Grief/depression
  • Extreme dependency
  • Inability to judge trustworthiness of others
  • Anger/hostility
  • Mistrust- particularly of men

Stigmatisation

  • Guilt
  • Shame
  • Low self-esteem
  • Sense of being different to others

 

Powerlessness

  • Anxiety/ fear
  • Low self efficacy
  • Perception of self as a victim
  • Need to control identification with the offender

These psychological impacts can then manifest through a whole range of dysfunctional behaviors:

  • Sexual preoccupation and compulsion
  • Precocious sexual activity
  • Aggressive sexual behaviors
  • Promiscuity / prostitution
  • Sexual Dysfunction: Flashbacks, difficulty in arousal/orgasm
  • Avoidance of or phobic reactions to sexual intimacy
  • Inappropriate sexualisation of parenting.
  • Clinging / poor social skills
  • Isolation
  • Vulnerability to subsequent abuse/ exploitation
  • Allowing own children to be abused
  • Marital/ intimacy issues
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Delinquency
  • Drug/ alcohol abuse
  • Criminal involvement
  • Self mutilation
  • Suicide
  • Nightmares
  • Phobias/ eating disorders
  • Depression/ dissociation
  • Bullying/running away
  • School / employment problems

S.Ramsay. (2008)