Sexual assault, or sexual abuse, takes many different forms and can be any form of sexual activity that is forced upon a person without their consent. It can include rape, sexual touching, being forced to engage in any kind of sexual activity, or unwanted exposure to pornography. It can happen in the context of a private relationship or at work or in public settings.
It can be difficult for the sufferer to talk about, for obvious reasons. It may or may not result in major trauma presentations like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), or Complex Trauma. Sometimes the person who has been abused may feel that their own experience does not quite fit with those of others, but is extremely distressing to them nonetheless. Any distressing experience can be a valid reason to seek counselling.
Because experiences of this kind are intensely personal, the counselling and recovery process needs to be flexible enough to address individual sensitivities and needs.
Whether a person becomes traumatized by certain experiences depends on many factors, including the situation at the time and whether understanding support was available or not, (especially whether there was an opportunity for the person to tell others who could compassionately acknowledge what the survivor had been through).
How can Counselling help Recovery from Sexual Abuse?
The sexual abuse survivor needs to know they will be given the time, sensitivity and dignity to tell their story in a way that helps them to recover their own “voice”. That is, to have a say in how, what, and when certain aspects of their experience is covered. Like all survivors of trauma, their first need is to feel safe – in being able to trust the counsellor to hear and hold their story.
They need to be able to tell their story in a way that will not re-traumatise or re-expose them.
Some traumatic memories are too frightening or graphic for the survivor to find words. It may not be necessary to tell all instances of some abuse, if it was part of a repeated pattern. The main thing our minds need in letting go of traumatic memories is to recognise the familiar patterns – and this may be enough to dynamically shift the experience from being stuck – to being able to process it – thereby starting the recovery process.
Counselling and therapy is a way of taking control of your own story – of finding a way to bring order and meaning back into your world – and especially, to feel empowered again, or for the first time.
Call us on 1300 739 531 to make an appointment
- Phones answered Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 8pm, Saturdays 9-4pm
- After-hours appointments available weeknights to 8pm, Saturdays 9am to 4pm.
- Medicare and Private Health rebates can be processed at your session.
- For details on our psychologists, see Our Team
If traumatic experiences are robbing you of motivation, joy and interest, let us help. Open Sky Psychology serves people in the local areas of Ryde, Gladesville, Putney, Lane Cove, Meadowbank, Hunters Hill, Top Ryde, East Ryde, West Ryde, North Ryde, Denistone, Drummoyne, Eastwood, Epping, Chatswood, and surrounding suburbs.
Victoria Road buses also make our practice accessible for city workers, see Contact Us. But if Our Team’s areas of specialisation make a good match for your particular needs, we welcome people from anywhere.