Before you read on, please know this- sexual and physical abuse is never the victims fault. Never. Never. Never. Because of the social stigma that surrounds sexual abuse we do not know clearly how common it is. However, based off of statistics and reported events it is estimated that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys have experienced some form of sexual abuse by their 18th birthday. Individuals who come into counseling for sexual abuse are often confused whether their experience was sexual abuse. For that reason, a clear definition of sexual abuse is necessary. Sexual abuse has two definitions, 1.) the forcing of unwanted sexual activity by one person on another, as by the use of threats or coercion and 2.) sexual activity that is deemed improper or harmful, as between an adult and a minor or with a person of diminished mental capacity.
Girls and boys who experience sexual abuse feel a wide array of strong emotions including shame, secrecy, fear, disgust, confusion, and self-loathing. All of these emotions are natural, yet, these individuals often feel helpless to express their emotions. They are afraid that if they tell anyone they may be misunderstood or blamed for the abuse.
The perpetrator will often use their age, authority and the victims emotional vulnerability to further manipulate the child into thinking their deviant behavior is acceptable. Some molesters may say things like “I will hurt you, I will say you wanted it.” or “If you loved me you would comply.” The perpetrator may even manipulate the victim enough whereby the victim responds physically and experiences sexual pleasure during the abuse. This can cause confusion for the victim on whether or not it was actually abuse. Hear me loud and clear, if a violation took place based off of the above definition, it is abuse.
People who have experienced sexual abuse typically feel a tremendous amount of shame and embarrassment, especially if the physical abuse has not been worked through in therapy. These hidden feelings can manifest themselves in other interpersonal problems such as promiscuity, low self esteem, isolation, co-dependency, sexual confusion, tendency towards unhealthy relationships, perfectionism, drug use, alcoholism, and body image issues.
In sexual abuse counseling at the Colorado Center For Healing And Change we address all of the above issues with the utmost compassion, respect and sensitivity to help the individual towards emotional integration and wholeness resulting in a restored identity and a new perspective on relationships. Please note, In the situation of working with minors, if the abuse is currently going on, I am legally mandated to report the abuse to social services. If you or a loved is in the Aurora area and has been sexually or physically abused, you do not have to live in hiding any more, we can help! Call us today at 303-481-4229 to set up an initial consultation.