Just like the way each of us reacts to road rage or stubbing our toe, every individual survivor of child sexual abuse has the right to react and heal in their own unique way. There is no “right” method to start the process of healing, nor is there only certain family members who are “allowed” to be upset. If you, or a loved one, has suffered the trauma of child sexual abuse, it is so important that you seek professional help.
The assistance and guidance of a trained counselor or therapist is empowering, allowing victims and their families to:
- Express themselves
- Learn methods of emotional protection
- How to create a safe environment
- Different methods of healing
- How to resume normal development after surviving abuse
Young Survivors Need Help, Too
Guardians of younger children are sometimes mistaken in assuming that very young survivors of child sexual abuse may not be at risk for long-term damage due to their age and lack of ability to remember the event.
But nothing could be further from the truth: The impact of sexual molestation on a young child can be devastating to their development. The youngest victims of childhood sexual abuse can continue to reel from their inability to protect themselves or express control over their environment long after an older victim would be able to accept healing and move forward.
Preschoolers in particular can have a very difficult time adjusting to change or loss as it causes them to feel helpless, unable to protect themselves, and completely powerless. Children in this age range are also very dependent on the protection and support of their parents and caregivers. As such, when an incident of sexual molestation occurs, the child may also lose trust in those he or she believed was watching out for their safety.
Know your family’s best options to heal.
Different factors or personal comfort may affect your decision to choose one avenue of support over another. Here’s a quick breakdown of counseling options that will be suggested when contacting the authorities to report abuse:
Individual Counseling involves one-on-one sessions with a patient and therapist. The private setting allows individuals to openly express their feelings and discuss emotions without fear of embarrassment. Because children have individual needs that need addressing, but may have difficulty speaking up, individual counseling can provide a safe haven for young victims to begin healing.
Group Counseling options for sexual abuse victims also allow participants to explore issues in a safe setting. This method of counseling allows one therapist to focus on a group of individuals who all share related issues. Participants in group therapy are also able to benefit from shared information and experiences, which helps reduce feelings of isolation. There are also groups that provide much-needed support for parents and caregivers of molestation victims.
Family Counseling is designed to help the family members of sexual abuse victims understand the impact of abuse, improve their relationships and build a sense of trust. While all family members may be welcome, the therapist may choose a mix of individual and group sessions to best help the child sexual abuse victim. These counseling sessions may include the offender if careful consideration is given to the wellbeing of other family members.
Crisis Counseling options for sexual abuse victims may be offered through a local agency, law enforcement or a hospital program. In addition, there are national 24-hour hotlines to call for abuse victims feeling loneliness, anger, depression, as well as suicidal.
It’s important that parents and caregivers of young children who have experienced molestation fully explore counseling options for sexual abuse victims. Young children who experienced molestation need extra assistance achieving developmental milestones. In many ways, the abuse itself can alter a child’s brain, setting them up for a lifetime of panic attacks or possible mental illness.
We can help you find the resources to your child the best chance of overcoming their sexual abuse. At Keep Kids Safe from Sex Abuse, we believe that all children should be protected from dangerous sexual predators. We also believe that this is best achieved through extensive education and by getting involved. To learn more about our not for profit organization and how you can keep kids safe from sex abuse, call us at 408-915-5400 or 858-926-5800.