Since sexual abuse is usually committed not by a stranger but by someone known to and trusted by the individual, it brings with it a great sense of confusion, betrayal, and often guilt. Abusers often threaten, lie to, or reward their victims, adding another layer to the emotional trauma.
Sometimes people get advice – from others, or from their own internal voice – to just “move on,” “forget the past,” or “let go of negative memories.” Such advice may be well-intended, but it is not easy to accomplish and may not be healthful at first. While letting go and practicing forgiveness is a good eventual goal for a survivor of abuse, dealing first with feelings of anger, grief, guilt, anxiety and other painful emotions resulting from the abuse is likely necessary before trying to “move on.”
Therapy can help in a number of ways, including increasing insight into the nature of feelings that are arising, clarifying values and choices, helping with anger management and communication skills, uncovering and working through shame, and facilitating emotional catharsis. If you are or have been a victim of sexual abuse, our compassionate and caring counselors are here and ready to help you heal.