Healing Childhood Sexual Abuse

30 Day Integrative Holistic Treatment for Childhood Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse has profound impacts on the way children develop mentally, socially and sexually. In this crucial stage of development, we learn how to build healthy relationships and grow our coping skills – and for those things to happen, we require an environment where we feel safe and loved.

But sexually traumatizing experiences can shift the way we see the world. They can make us view our future negatively, feeling like we’re forever doomed to live a life of pain and unease. They make us feel that we’re always unsafe, and affect the way we interact with the people around us as a result. When you see the world through a lens of fear, it becomes very difficult to trust others.

If you’ve experienced sexual trauma, your tendency might be to avoid anything that reminds you of what happened, avoid conversations about the topic and even avoid forming relationships out of an inability to truly trust others. How deeply distressing this is gets worse the closer your relationship is to the abuser.

Despite the profound, long-term impacts of sexual abuse, most people don’t report it. Children who incur this type of abuse are often made to think it was their fault and manipulated into keeping it a secret. Even as adults, survivors feel enduring shame and self-blame, which only gets worse when it’s reinforced by social stigma.

But facing sexual abuse is important. The damage from this type of trauma can have severe consequences including depression, anxiety, PTSD, sexual dysfunction and self-harm – and can affect you for a lifetime if it’s left untreated.

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Secrecy and Shame of Childhood Sexual Abuse

When a child is used in any way for the arousal of an adult, including exhibitionism or viewing pornography, that behavior is sexually abusive. The prevalence of sexual abuse in our society is staggering. It’s estimated that one in three women, and one in five men, has experienced some form of sexual trauma before the age of 18. Statistics show that in the US, an incidence of sexual abuse takes place every 98 seconds.

But because of the nature of its emotional fallout, the majority of these cases go completely undetected. Data shows that only 63 percent of sexual abuse survivors come forward about their experiences – though there’s no way of knowing how many cases are actually unreported.

When children are sexually abused, they don’t understand what’s happening to them, much less how to tell adults about it. Many people carry this secret – and its pain – with them throughout the rest of their lives. This is especially concerning, as unresolved trauma from sexual abuse can have far-reaching effects that significantly impede your ability to live a full, happy and healthy life.

Being sexually abused as a child also increases your likelihood of being victimized again as a teen or an adult. Compared to someone who has not experienced this abuse, chances of another offense are 35 times greater. This is due in part to the way survivors’ ideas around what normal sexual behavior is have developed, and partly to perpetrators’ tendency to seek out someone who appears vulnerable.

Impacts of Childhood Sexual Abuse and Trauma

Sexual abuse that occurs during childhood can have far-reaching impacts throughout the rest of your life. These can include:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Depression
  • Shame and guilt
  • Substance abuse and dependence
  • Interpersonal problems
  • Diminished self-worth
  • Difficulty trusting others
  • Intimacy disorders

If the abuse was at the hands of an adult in your life whom you trusted, you may form the perception from a young age that that type of behavior is normal or expected. You may have more age-inappropriate sexual experiences, and be likelier to run into problems with sex and relationships as you grow up.

Another, very common response to sexual abuse is avoidance. Especially with abuse that occurred in the distant past, it often seems easier to tell yourself that it wasn’t a big deal; that you’ve forgotten about it; that you’re past it. You may be reluctant to seek treatment because you don’t want to acknowledge your painful memories or you’re afraid of the emotional consequences of peering into that part of your life once more.

But, like all things lurking in our shadow selves, as long as your sexual trauma remains unaddressed, it is having an impact on you. It’s influencing the way you feel about yourself, how you interact with others and your ability to find and sustain fulfilling relationships with appropriate partners.

Most people have adverse childhood experiences of some kind, and they often show up in our adult lives in ways that can be difficult for us to understand. But treatment can give you the tools you need to look inside yourself and start making sense of what you see.

PTSD from Childhood Sexual Trauma

Sometimes trauma doesn’t go away on its own. Sometimes it develops into a set of symptoms known as PTSD – and this is often the case with survivors of this deeply personal, highly sensitive form of abuse. Symptoms of PTSD can include:

  • Hyper vigilance
  • Poor self-image
  • Paralyzing anxiety
  • Persistent fearfulness
  • Nightmares and sleeplessness
  • Flashbacks of the event
  • Mood swings
  • Anger and aggressive behavior
  • Social withdrawal
  • Depression

PTSD also increases the risk of other mental health conditions like panic disorders, disordered eating and substance abuse. These behaviors often become more pronounced after you encounter a trigger. Constantly sustaining higher stress levels can also lead to a plethora of physical health issues, increasing your risk for cardiovascular problems, immune disorders and chronic illness.

Childhood Sexual Trauma and Addiction

The emotional pain of sexual trauma – whether it’s apparent on a conscious level or not – often drives us to adopt maladaptive coping strategies to help us change our emotional state. The problem is that self-medicating with harmful substances is ultimately just another form of self-abuse. This not only makes you more vulnerable to being victimized in your sexual life, but complicates whatever psychological issues are taking place.

Substances like drugs and alcohol destabilize your mood and interfere with the development of your natural coping abilities. In short, while they may temporarily soothe the symptoms of anxiety and PTSD, they very quickly make them much, much worse. But this pattern is highly common among survivors – in fact, some treatment professionals report that as many as 90 percent of the clients they see for addiction have experienced some form of sexual mistreatment.

An Integrative Treatment Program for Healing Sexual Abuse and Trauma

We want you to know that complete recovery from the trauma of childhood sexual abuse is within your reach – and the sooner you start the healing process, the less time you will spend missing out on living your life’s true purpose. Although it may seem hard at first, taking that first step towards getting treatment is an act of courage and strength – and one that will reward you with a fuller, more connected life than you imagined.

While mainstream treatment relies primarily on medication and talk therapy, a growing body of research shows that your mind is not the only part of you affected by trauma. Your body, soul and spirit are also in need of attention and care – and full recovery can only take place when they’re nurtured as well.

The Sanctuary is home to a well-rounded array of wellness practitioners and facilities specifically designed to help you release tension, relax into a space where you can freely explore yourself and reconnect with your truest, most powerful being.

You were not put here on this Earth to live a life of victim hood and pain. Here, you’re believed, you’re not to blame, and you’re safe.

At The Sanctuary, we’ll never judge you for your experience. You’re welcome here just as you are. And we’re ready to lead you on a healing journey that will change the rest of your life. Feel what it’s like to restore a sense of love, connection, belonging and peace to your life – call us at (877) 710-3385 to learn how.

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