Child sexual abuse involves another person (adult, sibling, peer) who forces or coerces a child into sexual activity. This activity may include fondling of a child’s genitals, masturbation, oral-genital contact, digital penetration, vaginal and anal intercourse. It’s important to note that child sexual abuse is not restricted to simply physical contact – it may include exposure, voyeurism, and child pornography. Children who are sexually abused have a strikingly different developmental course than children who have not been abused. If left untreated, the scars of childhood sexual abuse will last a lifetime. When the abuse is revisited later in life, post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms may develop.
Children and adolescents of all races, cultures, and economic statuses are at equal risk to child sexual abuse. While studies show that girls are often sexually abused more than boys, this may be due to the fact that boys may not report the abuse. There are a variety of reasons a child may not report the sexual abuse. These include:
The victim does not know the sexual abuse isn’t normal
The victim doesn’t know that there is help available
The victim may fear the consequences of reporting the abuse
The victim may believe that no one will believe them if they report the abuse
The victim may be afraid of the way other people may react
The victim may have been threatened by the abuser
If you have suffered childhood sexual abuse, it does not have to define you. Our Radical Aliveness Groups and Our Life Change Program at Life Change Health institute can help you heal from the scars of child sexual abuse and learn to lead a life filled with joy, happiness, and pleasure.
Signs and Symptoms of Childhood Sexual Abuse
Children who have been the victim of childhood sexual abuse often suffer a wide variety of psychological and behavioral problems that can range from mild to severe. Short term symptoms of childhood sexual abuse may include:
Immaturity and regression
Decreased physical heath
Inappropriate sexual behavior
Sexual acting out
These problems continue into adolescence, which is usually when the first symptoms of PTSD emerge. These boys and girls have a younger age of voluntary sexual intercourse compared to same-age peers. In later adolescence, patterns of disturbed sexuality also develop. At this stage, in addition to increasing symptoms of depression and PTSD, pathological levels of dissociative symptoms become apparent. Additional symptoms and effects seen in late adolescence to early adulthood include:
Digestive and gastrointestinal distress
Poor decision-making skills
Inability to concentrate or pay attention
Childhood sexual abuse victims are twice as likely to experience subsequent acts of abuse, rape, physical attacks, and domestic violence. Additionally, these children are four times as likely to engage in self-harm episodes or suicide attempts, and experience 20% more additional lifetime traumas, compared to their peers. Abused women also show a higher rate of teenage pregnancy and motherhood compared to women who were not victims of abuse.
The severe consequences of childhood sexual abuse demonstrate the need for early intervention. However, many of these children do not disclose their abuse until adulthood, so few receive treatment until late adolescence or early adulthood. By that time, the symptoms of PTSD, depression, and additional life events have often taken their toll. Many believe that the childhood sexual abuse was their fault; that they deserve to live a life full of suffering.
No child is to blame for child sexual abuse. Adults are supposed to protect children from harm, not harm them. Children are taught to do what adults tell them and believe that adults speak the truth. Even when the children begin to understand that the abuse is wrong, they are often dependent on the abuser and cannot escape. When the abuser is not in the home, they often go to great lengths to ensure the child won’t speak out and will continue to participate despite being fearful, hurt and, confused.
At The Life Change Health Institute, we use only the most empirically supported trauma treatments. We provide you with the support, compassion, and skills needed to begin processing your experiences so that you can begin to heal. We work to restore hope and provide you with skills needed to regain control over your life. We’ll guide you through your treatment with compassion and support.
Working with sexual trauma at Trauma Recovery Institute
Trauma Recovery Institute offers unparalleled services and treatment approach through unique individual and group psychotherapy. We specialise in long-term relational trauma recovery, sexual trauma recovery and early childhood trauma recovery. We also offer specialized group psychotherapy for psychotherapists and psychotherapy students, People struggling with addictions and substance abuse, sexual abuse survivors and people looking to function in life at a higher level. Trauma recovery Institute offers a very safe supportive space for deep relational work with highly skilled and experienced psychotherapists accredited with Irish Group Psychotherapy Society (IGPS), which holds the highest accreditation standard in Europe. Trauma Recovery Institute uses a highly structured psychotherapeutic approach called Dynamic Psychosocialsomatic Psychotherapy (DPP).
At Trauma Recovery Institute we address three of the core Attachment Styles, their origin’s the way they reveal themselves in relationships, and methods for transforming attachment hurt into healing. We use the latest discoveries in Neuroscience which enhances our capacity for deepening intimacy. The foundation for establishing healthy relationships relies on developing secure attachment skills, thus increasing your sensitivity for contingency and relational attunement. According to Allan Schore, the regulatory function of the brain is experience-dependent and he says that, as an infant, our Mother is our whole environment. In our relational trauma recovery approach you will learn to understand how the early patterns of implicit memory – which is pre-verbal, sub-psychological, and non-conceptual – build pathways in our brain that affect our attachment styles. Clinically, we can shift such ingrained associative patterns in our established neural network by bringing in new and different “lived” experiences in the Here and Now.
The Role of the Therapist in transforming attachment trauma: Healing into wholeness takes the active participation of at least one other brain, mind, and body to repair past injuries – and that can be accomplished through a one-to-one therapeutic relationship, a therapeutic group relationship or one that is intimate and loving. In exploring the “age and stage” development of the right hemisphere and prefrontal cortex in childhood, we discover how the presence of a loving caregiver can stimulate certain hormones, which will help support our growing capacity for social engagement and pleasure in all of our relationships. Brain integration leads to connection and love throughout our entire life span. At trauma recovery institute we bring a deep focus to the role of Neuroscience in restoring the brain’s natural attunement to Secure Attachment. Our brain is a social brain – it is primed for connection, not isolation, and its innate quality of plasticity gives it the ability to re-establish, reveal and expand one’s intrinsic healthy attachment system.
Dynamic Psychosocialsomatic Psychotherapy (DPP) at Trauma Recovery Institute Dublin
Dynamic Psychosocialsomatic Psychotherapy (DPP) is a highly structured, once to twice weekly-modified psychodynamic treatment based on the psychoanalytic model of object relations. This approach is also informed by the latest in neuroscience, interpersonal neurobiology and attachment theory. As with traditional psychodynamic psychotherapy relationship takes a central role within the treatment and the exploration of internal relational dyads. Our approach differs in that also central to the treatment is the focus on the transference and countertransference, an awareness of shifting bodily states in the present moment and a focus on the client’s external relationships, emotional life and lifestyle.
Dynamic Psychosocialsomatic Psychotherapy (DPP) is an integrative treatment approach for working with complex trauma, borderline personality organization and dissociation. This treatment approach attempts to address the root causes of trauma-based presentations and fragmentation, seeking to help the client heal early experiences of abandonment, neglect, trauma, and attachment loss, that otherwise tend to play out repetitively and cyclically throughout the lifespan in relationship struggles, illness and addictions. Clients enter a highly structured treatment plan, which is created by client and therapist in the contract setting stage. The Treatment plan is contracted for a fixed period of time and at least one individual or group session weekly.
“Talk therapy alone is not enough to address deep rooted trauma that may be stuck in the body, we need also to engage the body in the therapeutic process and engage ourselves as clients and therapists to a complex interrelational therapeutic dyad, right brain to right brain, limbic system to limbic system in order to address and explore trauma that persists in our bodies as adults and influences our adult relationships, thinking and behaviour.”