Sexual abuse does not heal itself. Time , marriages, children, success, wealth, buying a bigger house, or faster car, changing jobs or relocating will not CURE it. The survivor is robbed of his or her innocence, core identity and trust. It is 'violence' that does not require force. The child is thrown into a state of shock. For some the memories remain conscious, while others drive them beneath the conscious level. These coping mechanisms are carried into adulthood and impact the person's life on every level. Sexual child abuse is the most profound, pervasive and all encompassing injury anyone could sustain--it permeates every aspect of one's being.
Sexual abuse recovery requires a highly focused process specifically for the after effects. Therefore, it is imperative for your recovery to work with a professional, who understands and is experienced in the multifaceted process of healing the mind, body and spirit.
Sexual abuse after effects include, but are not limited to:
o Anxiety. Do you often worry, unable to sit still or constantly on the go?
o Panic Attack--heart palpitations, shortness of breath
o Relationship Problems. Are your relationships with family, friends, and significant others full of stress, inability to truly communicate?
o Insomnia. Trouble relaxing and sleeping
o Addictions. Do you attempt to fill the void with food, drugs, alcohol, work, or sex?
o Extreme Emotions. Do your emotions often seem out of control?
o Depression. Do you feel that life will never be better and that as long as you are alive you will be in pain?
o Hyper-vigilant. Do you feel like you must be constantly on guard?
o Inability to trust or trusting indiscriminately
o Physical Problems. Are you plagued by physical
issues--headaches/migraines, stomach problems, MS, PMS, Cancer, Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia, Restless Leg Syndrome, Lupus, Lower Back Pain?
o Angry. Does your anger interfere with your life?
o Shame/Guilt/Humiliation. Do you believe you are at fault--If you had only....thus you experience the ensuing shame, guilt and humiliation?
Asking the following questions will help insure you have a qualified professional for sexual child abuse recovery.
-If a professional asks: "What is your problem?" or "What happened to you?" Continue searching. Asking, "What is your problem?" or "What happened to you?" implies blame, sickness and fault. Asking, "What did you experience growing up?"--allows the person to begin the process of discovering the source of their pain and healing the wounds.
-What is your approach to the recovery process? The basic recovery process is: Discovery, Heal, Discovery, Heal. Processing feelings and uncovering the layers of pain. "Going into the Pain to get out of the Pain." "There is no gain without pain." If the professional is unable to give you a process similar to this. Continue searching.
-Do you allow phone conversations (10 - 15 min.) between sessions? If the answer is, "NO." Continue searching. Having a short phone conversations between sessions is paramount to your ability to develop the deep level of trust required to go through the healing process. Furthermore, people aren't only in pain on Tuesday at 3 p.m. The recovery process is a 24/7 proposition, the professional's support between sessions is critical to recovery.
-What are the critical issues in the recovery process? The correct answer is: Anger/Rage, Sadness, Fear, Guilt, Humiliation, Inability to Trust and Shame. If the professional is unable to readily list these emotions. Continue to search.
-What tools and techniques do you use to facilitate the recovery process? If the professional is trained in sexual abuse recovery, he or she will name some or all of the following techniques: Guided Imagery, Hypnosis/Regression, Therapeutic Journaling, Dream Analysis, Reframing, Using Affirmations, Using the book, "The Courage to Heal Workbook" by Laura Davis, Cell Memory Releasement.
The following techniques, or some variation, are optional, but highly recommended:
o Movement Therapy
The majority of mental health professionals treat symptoms--i.e. depression, anxiety, panic, MS, chronic fatigue, PMS, etc. What is the difference between treating 'symptoms' and treating 'root cause?'
Treating 'root cause' focuses on the experience the survivor endured--the sexual abuse and the ensuing after effects. Uncovering the pain and healing the emotions associated with that pain. Note: Question above regarding the emotions indigenous to sexual abuse.
Treating symptoms focuses on the symptomatic coping mechanisms the survivor used to survive the pain, i.e. drug/alcohol abuse, eating disorders, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, co-dependency, chronic fatigue syndrome, migraine headaches, numbing out, dissociating, arthritis, cancer, MS, sexual addiction, etc.
Last, but not least, if the professional fails to answer any one of these questions with same or similar answers, continue your search. If you are unable to find a professional through your medical insurance, the yellow pages or referral contact http://www.drdorothy.net and go to 'Ask the Expert.'