Are You Struggling To Process The Pain Of Sexual Assault?
Are you struggling to move past a disempowering sexual experience? Maybe it happened a long time ago, and you’re unsure why old feelings of fear, anger or shame are surfacing now. It’s possible you’ve never told anyone what happened, especially if the perpetrator was someone you knew. Since the assault, have you struggled to trust others, make friends or form romantic relationships? Are you exhausted after so much time carrying this burden alone?
Or, maybe the assault happened recently, and you’re finding it difficult to process what happened. Do you feel isolated or ashamed, as though you are damaged goods, and no one will understand or accept you? Do you wish you could gain distance from what happened, and let it go?
No matter when the assault occurred, the memories and feelings associated with what happened may be interrupting your ability to feel safe, stable and calm. Sexual abuse can bring on symptoms related to PTSD, depression and anxiety, and these can intensify over time.
For example, you may find it increasingly difficult to concentrate, eat balanced meals, sleep well and interact with others. Even when you least expect them, you might experience intrusive flashbacks that pull you back to what happened, as though the danger never left. The trauma may be manifesting physically through stress symptoms, such as heart palpitations, heavy breathing, sweaty palms, insomnia, night terrors or eating issues.
Regardless of your signs or symptoms, you may be moving through the world with an underlying sense of discomfort that diminishes the value of everything you experience. Do you desperately crave a path toward relief?
You Are Not Alone
If you have been assaulted or are an adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse, you are not alone and what happened was not your fault. According to Rape Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), men, women and children are all affected by sexual violence. One out of every six American women and one in 33 men have been the victim of an attempted or completed rape. Child Protective Services reports that approximately 63,000 children each year are victims of sexual abuse.
Surviving sexual assault is similar to going through war or a severe accident. When your sense of safety is violated, it’s common for troubling memories and feelings from the past to resurface. Trauma survivors often experience long-term physical and mental health problems, including, but not limited to: mood swings, lethargy, hypervigilance, aches, headaches and digestive issues. Unresolved trauma can lead to interpersonal relational difficulties, chronic health conditions and severe depression and anxiety.
RAINN also reports that most sexual assaults occur at or near the home, which is to suggest that most victims knew their perpetrator. This is true on college campuses as well. And, because victims are often blamed for the assault or knew their attacker personally, many internalize their distress. Some never tell anyone what happened.
Regardless of what you’ve been through, you didn’t ask for it, and it was not your fault. It doesn’t define who you are. In sexual assault therapy, you can carefully identify the effects of sexual trauma, process that pain and move forward into the bright future you deserve.
Trauma Therapy Can Reintroduce Safety, Peace And Joy Into Your Life
Counseling for childhood sexual abuse and sexual trauma can be incredibly effective. Together, we can work to repair the safety, trust and security that has been compromised. Your safety is our main focus and priority. At a pace that feels right for you, we can work through your symptoms, toward increased self-compassion, resilience and connection.
Because everyone processes trauma differently, our approach is completely tailored to address your needs and therapy goals. In a safe, confidential and compassionate environment, you can learn effective coping strategies that allow you to have more control over your emotions. We use a wide variety of empirically driven healing techniques, including deep breathing, grounding exercises and mindfulness. Ultimately, we want to restore your system to a calm state that feels grounded, safe and connected to others and the world around you.
Step by step, we can examine the trauma, understand the facts of what happened and clarify how those memories correspond to unwanted thoughts, emotions and behaviors. As you gain greater insight into your unique triggers, as well as the tools needed to manage them, you can feel equipped to not only process stress as it comes on, but also relax, connect and communicate more effectively.
At Brave Minds, we’ve been working with adult survivors of sexual abuse for over a decade. With the guidance and support of an experienced sexual abuse counselor, it’s possible to reconnect with your world, excel in your career, relinquish fears and gain more control over your emotions. You deserve to experience the love people have for you and be free from what happened. You deserve to realize your limitless potential.
You may still have questions or concerns about sexual assault therapy or PTSD treatment…
I don’t want to talk about what happened. I’m afraid I’ll be overwhelmed.
If you’re even considering sharing your trauma with a professional, you are extremely courageous and brave.
Because of the shame associated with sexual assault, many survivors keep the assault a secret. This is especially common for children who knew their perpetrators. But, you have nothing to be ashamed of. In a confidential, safe space, you can finally talk about what happened and be met with compassion, support and guidance.
Our number one goal in working with sexual assault survivors is to create a sense of safety in the therapy environment. We aim to equip you with tools for emotional regulation, so you’re no longer consumed by intense feelings. We’re available to walk with you, every step of the way, until you’re able to bring the safety we establish in therapy out into your world. The potential benefits of therapy are numerous, from maintaining healthier relationships and having fewer physical health problems to feeling increasingly confident and calm throughout each day.
This happened so long ago. I’m not sure why old wounds are surfacing now.
Troubling memories, sensations and emotions regarding assault tend to revisit individuals during major milestones in life. This may include everything from having a baby, to losing a loved one, to marriage or separation.
Parents who were abused as children tend to be triggered when their child reaches the age they were when their assault occurred. It’s also common to be triggered if your child’s behaviors or emotional reactions seem to echo your own. You might feel simultaneously sucked into the past and fearful for your child’s safety.
Entering a new relationship can also surface issues related to sexual assault. Something seemingly innocuous, like seeing a stranger who reminds of your perpetrator, can also bring everything rushing back.
In trauma therapy, you can not only gain tools to manage unwanted memories, emotions, behaviors and more, but develop a new understanding of your unique experience. This prepares you to lessen, and even overcome, troubling sensations, now and in the future.
I don’t know why I can’t get over this.
Everyone processes sexual assault differently. That said, you’ve endured a very troubling event. When we encounter life-threatening situations, the body’s natural survival response kicks into high gear. Sometimes, that stress response never fully releases, and in those cases, memories and emotions often get stuck. Instead of storing the experience in the past, trauma memories project onto the present. These intense emotional replays can make it seem as though the traumatic experience never ended. Understandably, this is very hard to manage on your own.
That is why seeking professional help is so important. You deserve to move past this, live fully and feel connected to yourself, others and the world around you.
Healing From Sexual Assault Is Possible
If you’re interested in sexual trauma therapy in Scotch Plains, NJ please call (908) 242-3634 or use the contact form for a free 20-minute consultation. We are happy to answer any questions you have about how sexual assault therapy can address your needs.