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on 22 September 2014

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While children and adolescents do suffer from trauma as a result of sexual abuse, it seems that there is hope for recovery. This is most likely due to receiving counseling in a safe environment, with a caring mental health professional who through partnership with the client; guides him or her towards empowerment. Most important is that the healing is done utilizing the client's own tools for success.

I look forward to your questions and comments.

Cassandra Roper

My Journey to Seeking Help

I reached the point where everything seemed hopeless. I felt isolated, alone and extremely angry. During this period I was having flashbacks to times of sexual abuse. After one suicide attempt I had reached the point of desperation and began seeking professional help.
For the first time in my life I was able to discuss my feelings without fear of recrimination. I had a safe environment where I could open up and express my inner torment with this counselor
I am able to delve much deeper and reveal things about myself. This has been a journey of self discovery, emotionally, physically and spiritually.

An adult survivor

Child Sexual Abuse
Child sexual abuse is any sexual act with a child performed by an adult or older child.
In many cases of sexual abuse, the child knows the offender. The offender is often someone the child trusts or loves, such as a parent, neighbor, or relative.

When sexual abuse occurs in childhood it can hinder normal social growth and be a cause of many different psychosocial problems.

Exhibits adult-like sexual behaviors, language, and knowledge

Nightmares or other sleep problems without an explanation
Sudden change in eating habits/Refuses to eat
Loses or drastically increases appetite
Sudden mood swings: rage, fear, insecurity, or withdrawal
Leaves “clues” that seem likely to provoke a discussion about sexual issues
Develops new or unusual fear of certain people or places
Refuses to talk about a secret shared with an adult or older child
Writes, draws, plays, or dreams of sexual or frightening images
Suddenly has money, toys, or other gifts without reason
Self-injury (cutting, burning)
Inadequate personal hygiene
Drug and alcohol abuse
Sexual promiscuity
Running away from home
Depression, anxiety
Suicide attempts
Compulsive eating or dieting
Occurrence of one indicator
does not
necessarily mean a person has experienced sexual abuse. Additionally, indicators of sexual abuse can vary widely from person to person.
Behavioral Reactions
Sexualized behavior. A serious reaction where children sexually interact with other people. Such acts may also stigmatize the child, which has a negative impact on the child.

Victim to Offender Cycle.
- Both male and female children are at risk for this problem.
Many offenders begin as children, whose response to sexual abuse is to identify with the aggressor and to sexually act out in order to cope with their own sense of vulnerability and trauma.
Emotional Reactions




Feeling responsible
. An offender may make the victim feel responsible for the sexual abuse.

Altered sense of self.
The invasive and intrusive nature of the sexual activity impacts negatively on the child's sense of self and self-esteem.

Anxiety and fear 
The child develops phobic reactions to the event, the offender, and to
other aspects of the abuse.

Major Modalities for Therapy
Young children generally require strong parental involvement and can benefit from family therapy.

The modality shifts during the course of treatment, for example group therapy is rarely used in the initial stages, as the subject matter is very personal and/or embarrassing.

Adolescents tend to be more independent. They can benefit from individual or group therapy.
Clinician's Role and Treatment
Help the child understand intellectually and accept emotionally that the child was not responsible.

Make the child feel whole and good about themselves again. Use interventions that help children view themselves as more than merely victims of sexual abuse. Normalizing and ego-enhancing activities, such as participating in sports, getting involved in scouts, can be very important in victim recovery.

Engage the child in a series of interventions that allow her/him to gradually deal with the abuse, related phobias and anxiety in ways that avoid excessive stress and allow mastery. These may include discussions, play therapy, or interventions in the child's environment. For example, the victim may be encouraged to ventilate by talking about the abuse and accompanying feelings, thereby reducing the level of distress related to it.
Teach behavioral controls. for example,
Using "time-out" for sexual acting out, can be taught to the child's caretaker.
A child's energies that might have gone into sexual behavior can be channeled into more age-appropriate activities by having a caretaker provide opportunities for positive alternative behaviors.

Help the child:
understand the relationship between the behaviors and the sexual abuse.
develop insight into the self-destructive nature of some of these behaviors;
develop appropriate expression of emotions (such as, anger); and behavioral interventions to diminish and eliminate problematic behavior.
Protection From Future Victimization

Teaching children to say no and tell someone.

In a group setting there are opportunities to role play resisting sexual advances.

Specific protective strategies involving family members is also important.

Clinician's Role and Treatment
An important part of treatment of victims of sexual abuse is to help them understand the meaning of the abuse.

This includes learning what appropriate and inappropriate touching entails; what is wrong about sexual activity between adults and children.

How these issues are addressed will vary with the child's developmental stage. They may be more adequately dealt with in group treatment than individual therapy,
Cognitive Concerns
Cognitive Reactions
Family Therapy

Childwelfare.gov,. (2014). Child Sexual Abuse: Intervention and Treatment Issues: Treatment Of Child Sexual Abuse. Retrieved 20 September 2014, from https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/usermanuals/sexabuse/sexabusef.cfm

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

Health.cvs.com,. (2014). Symptoms Child Sexual Abuse: Know the Warning Signs Wellness 27816. Retrieved 20 September 2014, from http://health.cvs.com/GetContent.aspx?token=f75979d3-9c7c-4b16-af56-3e122a3f19e3&chunkiid=27816

Nsopw.gov,. (2014). Recognizing Sexual Abuse. Retrieved 20 September 2014, from http://www.nsopw.gov/en-US/Education/RecognizingSexualAbuse?AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1

Secasa.com.au,. (2014). My journey to seeking help. Retrieved 20 September 2014, from http://www.secasa.com.au/sections/survivor-s-journeys/survivors-on-the-healing-journey/my-journey-to-seeking-help

Wikipedia,. (2014). Child sexual abuse. Retrieved 20 September 2014, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Child_sexual_abuse

Wilson, B. (2014). Childhood Sexual Abuse: How the past affects the present. Power to Change. Retrieved 21 September 2014, from http://powertochange.com/family-life-ca

National Child Sexual Abuse Helpline
Darkness to Light
1-866-FOR-LIGHT (866-367-5444)
ChildHelp at 1.800.4ACHILD (1.800.422.4453)
Child Abuse Hotlines:
US or Canada: 1-800-422-4453
Call 911 or local Police
Need Help ?
Dr. Peter Levine
Touching w/ Presence
Client Empowerment
Counseling Partnership
Tools for Healing
Individual Therapy
Group Therapy
What did I do

wrong ?
Child believes he or she is to blame.

The shame that whispers,
You’re to blame.
You asked for it. You wanted it.

You allowed it to continue.

It’s. All. Your. Fault !
It must be

because I...
(other behaviors shown in
yellow as indicators of abuse )
Harming animals
Full transcript