Sexual Abuse Counselling

Are you battling with the impact of past or current sexual abuse?

  • Were you sexually abused?
  • Are you spotting the signs of sexual assault in your family?
  • Are you holding on to self-blame and guilt for the abuse?
  • Are you experiencing flashbacks or nightmares about the abuse?
  • Do you find yourself hyper-vigilant doing normal, everyday activities?
  • Has it affected your ability to form healthy relationships?

Understanding the emotional responses of the trauma can help you overcome the impact of the abuse. Our team of experienced psychologists and counsellors can help you build resilience and empower you to move forward.

For your convenience, we are open daytime and after hours, Monday to Saturday, including evenings. Please, call us anytime on (02) 9683 1444.

Common effects of sexual assault

Sexual abuse has lasting effects on a victim’s health, according to a recent study. Abuse affects individuals in different ways.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

This is a psychological response to the experience of overwhelming trauma. It can leave you feeling shocked or helpless. It comprises of three groups of symptoms:

  • Frequent memories of the trauma. This can take place in the form of repetitive thoughts, images and dreams.
  • Avoidance symptoms. Withdrawing from social situations, or difficulty responding emotionally to others.
  • Heightened arousal. Reduced sleep, increased jumpiness, irritability and anger.

Health effects of sexual abuse

Flashbacks and sleep disorders

Sexual assault is related to the development of mood disorders and poor sleep. Memories may be often replayed in your sleep as nightmares or as flashbacks when awake. This can result in feelings of fear and anxiety to certain events.

What are you thinking about yourself and life?

Anxiety and fear

Sexual abuse affects the basic beliefs you have about yourself and the world. The sexual assault distorts our view of human nature and the world as a safe and orderly place.

You may be dealing with a high degree of fear: fear of the dark, fear of sleeping alone, or night terrors. This is because abuse distorts our view of human nature and the world as a safe and orderly place.

Anger

Any type of sexual harassment is wrong at any time. You are right to feel angry at what had happened. The anger at the same time brings no peace of mind and often adds more emotional pain. Sometimes you may be angry at yourself too.

Self-blame and guilt

It is possible that you sometimes may be angry at yourself for the experience. Many survivors blame themselves almost entirely for the abuse; for being unprepared, helpless and powerless at the time. We often hear our clients say, “It was my fault” or, “If I wasn’t such a bad person, it would not have happened to me”. Many of them believe, “If I was better or more lovable, I would not have been abused.” Or, they might assume that they had “let it happen”.

This is not true. Thinking this way can leave you feeling ashamed and guilty. Regaining control of your thoughts and feelings is your first step to restoration.

Low self-esteem

Sexual violence often makes the victims feel uncomfortable with who they are. They may underestimate their accomplishments and devalue their worth. You may feel like you are not worthy of love or that you don’t deserve happiness.

This is not true. Sexual abuse counselling can help you combat these negative thoughts.

The silence was killing me.
And that’s all there ever was. Silence. It was all I knew. Keep quiet.
Pretend nothing had happened, that nothing was wrong.
And look how well that was turning out.

― J. Lynn, Wait for You

Do not stay silent. Ring us for a free 15-minute phone consultation with our Intake Counsellor.

Common coping strategies

The abuse counselling aims at helping the assault victims to manage the self-sabotaging strategies that could lead to more harm. While you might not find those practices present in your life, they are common for abuse survivors.

Addictions

A large proportion of sexual abuse survivors have a known history of some form of abuse like alcohol, drugs, or eating disorders.

Selfharm

Some people who have been abused hurt themselves in response to feelings of loneliness or sadness.

Depression

You may be more vulnerable to depression if you have been abused.

Feeling numb

You may have shut down your feelings to cope with unbearable emotional pain. It can present itself as dissociation or an “out of body” experience.

Sexual problems

You may believe that you are not worthy of love. When our sexual esteem is low, it can lead to:

  • Inappropriate sexual bahaviour, promiscuity or prostitution
  • Withdrawal from sexual activities, physical or sexual problems, or fear of medical examinations

Personal relationships

You may find yourself leading a sexually promiscuous lifestyle as an attempt to ‘conquer’ or control situations. You may withdraw from any social or sexual interaction. This can leave you feeling alone and isolated. You may find it harder to form intimate and trusting relationships with men or women.

Feeling “amped”

This can involve:

  • Difficulties in concentration or sleeping
  • Irritability or outbursts of anger
  • Hyper-vigilance or overprotectiveness toward one’s self and other
  • An exaggerated startle response

Sexual abuse counselling and therapy

Every person and a life-story is different. Depending on your needs we can help you in the following steps to recovery:

Support to make sense of current experiences

There can be an element of disbelief and confusion surrounding the experience of abuse. Being able to process these thoughts and feelings are key to unlocking healing.

Develop coping skills

It is important to work through any trauma or possible distress associated with the abuse, as well as unhealthy coping strategies, such as alcohol, drugs, or eating disorders.

Assess and change any unhelpful or negative self-evaluations

Some people may blame themselves and rationalise that it occurred due to who they are or what they did. The truth is: it is never the fault of the victim that the abuse occurred.

Restoration and planning

Yes, the sexual assault is destructive, but it is possible to recover and integrate the experience of trauma within an optimistic worldview and lifestyle. Give us a call so that we can help you cross to a brighter life sooner.