For many survivors, the discussion of past child sexual abuse (CSA) is a difficult one to have. More often than not, these group of people wait at least five years before disclosing their traumatic story to another soul. And, even though the abuse occurred when the victim was a child or an adolescent, the majority do not disclose until they reach their adult years. A great part of the victim’s life has changed, and sadly enough, their struggle is one that they endure in a covert and yet, emotionally tumultuous manner.
Family dynamics plays a big part in deciding whether or not to reveal their abuse. Too often, sexual abuse occurs at the hands of a family member or close family friend. This complicates matters for the CSA victim. The young individual is greatly betrayed and can lose trust in adults. Consequently, trust and intimacy are two valuable components that are necessary to achieve a healthy relationship. Interpersonal relationships become compromised. Women of CSA are more likely to be re-victimized in their adult relationships.
As the individual attempts to continue on in their day-to-day life, it becomes a struggle to juggle their secret and maintain a life that appears “normal.” CSA victims can be affected in many ways. Some suffer from PTSD, anxiety, or depression. Other symptoms include hypervigilance, irritability, sleep disorders, low self-esteem, panic attacks, promiscuity, and more. There are many challenges the victim will face. But even more daunting, is the idea that they feel alone and misunderstood.
After years of secrecy, it can seem difficult to come out and speak about the past abuse. Seeking professional help is recommended. Working with a therapist, the CSA survivor can make decisions on how, when, or if he or she will disclose to family or friends. The adult survivor can begin to explore and examine the results of CSA in the safe and confidential environment of counseling. Together, a plan can be made to help ease the process of disclosure and discover healthy ways to cope with negative thoughts and emotions. No longer does the survivor have to walk alone.
“Hummingbird shows us how to re-visit the past for the purpose of releasing it instead of being caught in a permanently backward flight pattern. It also helps us to see that if we step aside we may see our life differently. Hummingbird teaches us to transcend time, to recognize that what has happened in the past and what might happen in the future is not nearly as important as what we are experiencing now. It teaches us to hover in the moment, to appreciate its sweetness.”
– Constance Barrett Sohodski
Hall, M., & Hall, J. (2011). The long-term effects of childhood sexual abuse: Counseling implications. Retrieved from http://counselingoutfitters.com/vistas/vistas11/Article_19.pdf
University of Montreal. (2010, January 22). Disclosing sexual abuse is critical. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 7, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100119121422.htm
Youth Villages. (2012, April 13). In child sexual abuse, strangers aren't the greatest danger, experts say. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 12, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120413100854.htm