Child Sexual Abuse is a reality that for too long has been kept secret, leaving victims and their families feeling a sense of helplessness and hopelessness above and beyond the abuseive behaviors perpetrated by the victimizers. In addition, there has been the notion that victims of sexual abuse and other forms of victimization are "damaged goods" with no real hope for improving their lives; their pain; their future.
It is important to recognize that for young victims of abuse, therapeutic services may play a critical role in helping to cope with the feelings associated with the abuse; help appropriate caregivers care for the emotional and behavioral needs of the child; and provide an arena for the child to express their thoughts and feelings in a therapeutic environment.
There are many myths related to victimization may impact on the victim's ability to get help. These include:
- Abuse doesn't happen in our community; or if it does, it is best to keep it quiet so that it can "die down".
- These behaviors are only abusive if they take place between an adult and a young child.
- Only girls are victimized. Boys who are viclimized are simply "wimps" or "wanted it to happen".
- Adolescents or adults who seek help for victimization will only harm themselves by re-awakening the pain that they have been attempting to push away for so long.
- Victims are "Damaged Goods," are infected by their victimization and have no chance of doing better.
As research continues to develop, we are becoming more understanding of the far-reaching occurances and consequences of victimization. For example, a significant number of boys have been victimized, many adolescents engage in harmful sexual behaviors towards children and for many, working past these experiences can be aided psychotherapy. In fact, many studies have shown that specialized treatment provided by trained psychotherapists help motivated clients cope with past traumatic experiences and current emotional, social and psychological ramifications.
There are times when people who experience abuse in childhood continue to struggle with the trauma in their adult lives. Some examples of these effects include traumatic memories; difficulty maintaining trust or intamacy in relationships; feelings of depression or anxiety. In some instances, issues of substance abuse and addictions; or interusive memories (often called "flashbacks") of past victimization are reported as well.
It is important to remember that children, adolescents or adul; people deserve the opportunity to receive therapeutic services in order to help cope with their past traumatic experiences.