Childhood sexual abuse is an epidemic around the globe. Abusers seek out a target to manipulate, control and abuse. What better victim for abusers than innocent, helpless children. They target children not because they are attracted to them and just can’t help it, instead it’s because they are powerless and easy to control. These perpetrators want to feel powerful. Remember abuse is about power and control.
I personally was sexually abused/raped by multiple people starting at the age of 6. This story is unfortunately all to common and is true for many of my friends growing up who were sexually abused as well and that is just the ones who were willing to disclose it. I am sure there are many more people that I grew up with that have been personally affected by sexual abuse, but are still too ashamed to disclose it. I personally disclosed the abuse against me at the age of 18. I however did not name names as one was a cousin and the other a friends grandfather the third being a male babysitter. That was when my therapy/medication road began as I started to have sudden and severe panic attacks, as well as bulimia. The personal effects of the abuse for me were low self esteem, self hatred, depression, anxiety, guilt, shame, and blame.
RAINN provides a comprehensive list of the effects of childhood sexual abuse, some of which may have effected you. RAINN states that, “Survivors of childhood sexual abuse experience an array of overwhelming and intense feelings. These may include feelings of fear, guilt, and shame. Abusers have been known to tell children that it is the fault of the child that they are abused, shifting the blame away from the abuser, where it belongs, and placing it on the child. Along with this, abusers may threaten or bribe the child into not speaking up; convincing the child that he or she will never be believed.The reaction of a survivor’s friends and family to the disclosure of the abuse also has the potential to trigger immense feelings of guilt, same and distrust, particularly if those individuals denied that the abuse was taking place, or chose to ignore it. While each individual’s experiences and reactions are unique, there are some responses to child sexual abuse that are common to many survivors:
- Low self-esteem or self-hatred
- Survivors may suffer from depression
- Guilt, shame and blame
Survivors may feel guilt or shame because they made no direct attempt to stop the abuse or because they experienced physical pleasure
- Sleep disturbances/disorders
- Survivors may have trouble sleeping because of the trauma, anxiety or may directly be related to the experience they had as a child; children may be sexually abused in their own beds.
- Lack of trust for anyone
- Many survivors were betrayed by the very people they are dependent upon (family, teachers etc.) who cared for them, who insisted they loved them even while abusing them; learning to trust can be extremely difficult under these circumstances.
- 93% of victims under the age of 18 know their attacker.ii
- Many survivors as adults find themselves in abusive, dangerous situations or relationships.
- Woman who were sexually assaulted before the age of 18 [are] twice as likely to report being raped as adults.iii
- Many survivors re-experience the sexual abuse as if it were occurring at that moment, usually accompanied by visual images of the abuse. These flashes of images are often triggered by an event, action, or even a smell that is reminiscent of the sexual abuse of the abuser.
- Many survivors go through a process where the mind distances itself from the experience because it is too much for the psyche to process at the time. This loss of connection with thoughts, memories, feelings, actions or sense of identity, is a coping mechanism and may affect aspects of a survivor’s functioning.
- Sexuality / Intimacy
- Many survivors have to deal with the fact that their first sexual encounter was a result of abuse. Such memories may interfere with the survivor’s ability to engage in sexual relationships, which may bring about feelings of fright, frustration, or being ashamed.
Adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse often adopt coping mechanisms (or survival strategies) to guards against feelings of terror and helplessness that they may have felt as a child. These past feelings can still have influence over the life and present behavior of an adult survivor. Here are some common coping mechanisms:
- Grieving / Mourning
- Many things were — childhood experiences, trust, innocence, relationships with family members. The survivor may feel a deep sadness, jealousy, anger or longing for something never had.
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- The abuse of substances can act as an escape from the intense waves of feelings, the terror and helplessness.
- Disordered Eating / Eating Disorders
- Compulsive control of food intake can be a way of taking back control over the body that was denied during the abuse.
- There are many ways survivors have coped with the feelings that can cause emotional or physical injury on the self. Burning or cutting are some ways for a survivor to relieve intense anxiety, triggered by memories of the abuse”
As you can see the list and the effects of childhood sexual abuse are substantial. The abuse effects every aspect of your life. Your innocence was taken, you can not get it back. The price of the abuse is high and the damage cuts to the core of who you are. Nothing is ever the same after abuse, It shatters your world as you knew it and the pain runs deep. It changes you, but you can recover. There are many tools and resources in the recover process. I personally tried as many available as I could find. It wasn’t until I worked with EFT that I was fully able to recover and heal from the trauma and pain associated with the sexual abuse/rape I had endured.
The relief I found through EFT was so dramatic for me that it was the driving force behind my decision to pursue the training to become a practitioner myself. I saw for myself the incredible results and knew this tool needed to be made available to other survivors in their recovery. All the years I had suffered, now looking back I wish I had only found EFT sooner. I am grateful to have found it, and I am grateful to be able to share it now with you through this site. I hope you will use it in your recovery and find with it the healing effects that I and many others have.
Wishing you well on your healing journey Anne-Marie Wiesman