Countless sexual abuse survivors struggle with mental health issues. Similar to soldiers in military combat, sexual abuse survivors can relive traumatic episodes and experience triggers stemming from distressing events.
According to a recent report, 36% of survivors meet the criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Sexual abuse can leave lasting emotional scars. However, survivors can regain a sense of power over their triggers, develop coping mechanisms and lead fulfilling lives with the proper mental health care.
What therapy is available for my loved one?
Many mental health issues linked to sexual abuse are treatable. If your loved one is a survivor, therapy can help them regain control of their lives and empower them to move forward. Here are a few options that could help:
- Group Therapy: Licensed therapists or advocates can lead group therapy sessions. Many of these therapies focus on fostering support for sexual abuse survivors. Some can also teach valuable skills and coping mechanisms, such as emotional regulation, boundary setting and distress tolerance.
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): EMDR is a structured therapy where survivors briefly focus on a horrific memory while engaging in specific eye movements. These eye movements can help reduce the strong emotions related to a traumatic event. In many cases, EMDR can help treat trauma and PTSD symptoms.
- Art Therapy: Art therapy can involve licensed mental health professionals encouraging patients to create art based on their emotions. For many survivors, drawing or painting about painful experiences can help them build their resilience and self-esteem.
- Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT): This evidence-based practice has three different approaches. These approaches can help survivors reduce unrealistic and unhelpful thoughts about horrific experiences, find tailored treatments for PTSD symptoms, and limit intense negative emotions caused by traumatic memories.
- Animal-Assisted Therapy: If you have a pet, you understand the benefits they bring to your life. Therapy animals can help survivors cope with trauma, anxiety and depression. Plus, they can be a friendly conversation starter for survivors and their therapists. Dogs and horses are popular options for animal-based therapies. However, they aren’t the only furry friends your loved one can lean on. Birds, rabbits, ferrets, Guinea pigs and cats can also be therapy animals.
Will going to therapy affect my loved one’s sexual abuse case?
Going to therapy would not hurt their lawsuit. And if your loved one worries about their therapist having to testify on their behalf, it’s highly unlikely that would happen. Much like attorney-client privilege, therapists have a legal duty to keep their client/patient interactions confidential.
Survivors can still live a happy and meaningful life
Sexual abuse can be a harrowing experience. But the trauma survivors experience doesn’t have to leave them in fear forever. If your loved one wishes to pursue therapy, you can help them find appropriate care.