Childhood Sexual Abuse & Adult Survivors

In the United States alone millions of the reports made alleging a child is being sexually abused are substantiated. The prevalence and frequency of child sexual abuse (CSA) is difficult to determine because it is often underreported. However, experts agree that the incidence is far greater than what is and has been reported to authorities. To add to the mounting uncertainty surrounding the prevalence of CSA, it is also not uniformly defined, so statistics may vary. Survivors of childhood sexual abuse often experience challenges establishing, maintaining, and trusting others. Opening up to others, exposing vulnerabilities can be terrifying for most survivors. Trying to form an intimate relationship may lead to frightening missteps and confusion. Not surprisingly, survivors often believe no one can be completely trusted and a loving attachment is not possible. Unfortunately, following a sexual assault many feel they are somehow damaged or flawed in some way, unworthy of truly being loved. Thoughts like these can wreak havoc in relationships throughout life.

When trauma occurs during early development many “normal” developmental milestones can be interrupted or negatively impacted. Sexual trauma suffered in childhood can be the sources of overwhelming fear, anxiety, depression, feelings of hopelessness/helplessness, self-doubt, low self-esteem, mood dysregulation, etc. Therapeutic intervention and counseling is needed to manage trauma following sexual assault. It is important for victims, especially child victims to understand they are not at fault for the abuse, process their feeling appropriately, and learn appropriate coping techniques to manage negative feelings. Counseling may be a lengthy process for some survivors as they age, enter different developmental stages, and advance toward the ages that romantic relationships are typically expected to begin. Unresolved childhood sexual trauma can create barriers for many survivors in adulthood leading to problems establishing and building relationships, memory and other cognitive issues, increased self-doubt, sexual dysfunctions, etc. Adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse often struggle with making sense of their inner world or experience significant challenges relating to others. Even if the survivor finds a safe, loving partner later in life, the self-limiting scripts stay with them.

Trauma- Behavioral and Emotional Impact

Too often, many adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse will re-live the trauma associated with the abuse over and over again in their mind, making it difficult to move beyond the pain of the past. It may come as no surprise that many survivors of sexual abuse will find themselves in abuse or otherwise unhealthy relationships in adulthood. Unfortunately, many survivors may drift from one unhealthy relationship to the other without fully understanding why they feel drawn to aggressive and dysfunctional people. This often happens without survivor recognizing or understanding why they are making specific romantic life choices. Beneath awareness is a drive to revisit unresolved trauma, and finally make things right. Of course, childhood wounds cannot be repaired this way unless there are two willing partners working on changing those cycles. But if these forces remain unnoticed, survivors can get caught in a cycle of abuse.

Survivors of Childhood Sexual Trauma May Experience the Following:

  • Sleep/eating disturbances
  • Feelings of hopelessness/helplessness
  • Recurrent flashes and or images of the abuse
  • Panic attacks
  • Low self-esteem/ self-doubt
  • Struggle with depression
  • PTSD
  • Develop impulsive behavior
  • Struggle with irritable mood
  • Seek or carry out the adverse behavior they experienced as a child
  • Suicidal thoughts/ideations
  • Have challenges related to bonding with others
  • Experience sexual dysfunctions

Trauma- Romantic Relationship Impact

  • Inability to completely bond with romantic partner
  • Difficulty establishing and building trust
  • Engage in emotionally fueled arguments
  • Struggle with lingering doubt that his/her partner doesn’t really love them
  • Withdrawal or distant, unresponsive behavior
  • Difficulty managing and addressing conflict
  • Communication issues
  • Difficulty accepting love, despite repeated reassurance
  • Heightened or otherwise inappropriate reactions to common relationship issues
  • Ongoing assumption they have no one they can truly count on, partner is against them

Adult survivors of childhood sexual trauma would benefit from having a good support system, assistance with processing negative feelings, help identifying appropriate strategies to deal with any future issues should they arise, receiving psychoeducation to better understand the nature of trauma, making a commitment to take better self-care.

Helpful Tips for Partners:

  • Recognize this will not be a quick or easy “fix”, your partner needs time and help managing negative feelings
  • Understand your partner may experience challenges building trust
  • Do not take it personally when they question your love for him/her
  • Remind your partner that he/she is safe
  • Try to stay in the here and now
  • Avoid pursing a disagreement when emotions are heightened

Learning how to manage communication helps couples restore calm and provide comfort as their understanding of trauma grows. Communication can also help a partner comfort a loved one during a flashback. Healing childhood wounds takes careful, hard work. But it is possible to replace old rules with time. Finding a therapist who can recognize and acknowledge the hurt, which the survivor has carried alone for so long, is essential to repairing deep wounds. The more we understand about the impact of trauma, the more we can help those touched by it to go beyond surviving, and find the healing security of healthier loving relationships.

Forgiveness After Betrayal: Forgiveness Exercises for You and Your Partner

Forgiveness After Betrayal: Forgiveness Exercises for You and Your Partner

Every relationship will have its ups and downs. You should never enter a relationship expecting perfection. However, betrayal tends to be a huge issue in any relationship. When your partner or spouse betrays you, it can leave you with feelings of mistrust, conflict, and immense hurt.

Fortunately, betrayal does not necessarily mark the end of a relationship. If you and your spouse still want to work things out, forgiveness is going to have to be a priority. Keep in mind that forgiving someone after betrayal is not an easy task. Fortunately, it is something you can achieve using forgiveness exercises.

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Enlightened Male?

Men and women today, are experiencing exciting and at times challenging changes; particularity the duality of energy. A birth incorporating both the masculine and the feminine. With the coming together of both energies, the sexes are uncovering a completeness or balanced perspective of the world and themselves. This balancing is part of the process of enlightenment. To be enlightened, is to become intellectually insightful, with the ability to observe oneself without ego, and be willing to assume ownership and adjust accordingly.
“What has to be known, that I have known; 
What has to be abandoned, that I have abandoned; 
What has to be developed, that I have developed; 
Therefore, O brahmin, I am a Buddha.”

 

 

Honoring the feminine energy for men; you may come to recognize an increased emotional intelligence, ability to apply effective collaboration and find creativity in many areas of your life. These are but a few of the benefits you will come to enjoy if you allow yourself to hold space for this feminine energy. Challenges that you may experience include, self-doubt, fears and anxiety. New feminine energies will take time to adjust to, take time in recognizing and understanding how they can benefit you.

 

To be a (male) warrior today, is to come to understand yourself, to the point of being able to acknowledge, accept and adjust to becoming a “peaceful warrior” – a term Dan Millman originated to describe men of this generation.
“Our task is simple. We should cease letting our
existence be a thoughtless accident.”
~ Nietzche ~

Trauma and Abuse

Trauma and abuse are different for each person; trauma and abuse are perceptional. Two people experiencing the same event may not perceive it to be traumatic. Peter A. Levine in “Trauma Through a Child’s Eyes”, reminds us that trauma is in the nervous system – not the event! “Trauma happens when any experience stuns us like a bolt out of the blue; it overwhelms us, leaving us altered and disconnected from our bodies. Any coping mechanisms we may have had are undermined, and we fell utterly helpless and hopeless. It is as if our legs are knocked out from under us.”

“Trauma refers to events that could not be assimilated. If the traumatic event could not be taken in, it cannot be linked with other experience, and there is now a structural dissociation of experience (Van der Hart et al., 2004) The result of trauma is dissociation, however, dissociation does not necessarily require trauma. (Howell, Elizabeth F. The Dissociative Mind)

Personality development affected by early trauma. Associated possible Symptoms include: anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and substance abuse. Per Elizabeth Howell, “DID is simply an extreme version of the dissociative structure of the psyche”. “Dissociation, in a general sense, refers to a rigid separation of parts of experience, including somatic experience, consciousness, affects, perception, identity, and memory. When there is a structural dissociation, each of the dissociated self-states has a least a rudimentary sense of I?

 

Note to Adult Survivors

Many survivors have lost decades to self-destructive coping patterns. No matter what you’ve done, the most important thing is that you have survived. If you use whatever resources you had to make it to your childhood, so you could grow up and become an adult with the opportunity and free will to heal. Quite literally, many survivors would have died if it weren’t for their coping mechanisms.

We should be proud of our resourcefulness in staying alive, yet many of us feel terribly shamed instead. The truth is, as a traumatized, isolated, and frighten young person, you did what ever you had to do to survive the abuse. And one should grow up, he continued the same patterns of behavior because they worked for you, at least for a while, because they become habits, because she still didn’t have other options.

The important thing is that you’ve grown up since then. You have the ability to re-examine your life. You can stop doing things you’re ashamed of and began the painstaking work of changing your behavior. But you have to start by forgiving yourself for the things you’ve done in order to cope. Feeling ashamed and terrible about yourself can keep you trapped and powerless, unable to mobilize your energy to make the necessary changes in your life.

 

Finding and making meaning in your life, is ultimately the journey we take together! When you are ready to take a journey of self discovery and achieve healthy personal empowerment, call me. Let the journey begin! Virtual (secure video conferencing) and telephone sessions available.

As your Transformational Coach we can work together in finding new and effective ways for moving forward.

Call me today to schedule your FREE 20 minutes telephone consultation.

Life After Death: How to Help Your Child Cope After the Death of A Loved One

Life After Death: How to Help Your Child Cope After the Death of a Loved One

When a loved one passes away, children often have trouble processing their feelings and emotions. The way they show their grief is often far different compared to the way adults show grief. For that reason, it is sometimes hard for parents to know how to react or to understand what their child is feeling. Helping kids cope after death differs depending on how old the child is, what kind of support system they have available, and how close they were to the person that died.

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Lessons Learned From My Patients

Never make a first impression

Whether good or bad, the first impression is not always reliable in the end. Initially you are talking and listening and trying to get a feel about the person but their “personal pieces” will be scattered about until you are able to help them line everything up. Once aligned or at least more organized, the picture could surprise you.

Never presume you make sense

Everyone comes from different backgrounds and life experiences that influence speaking and word use. What may be innocent slang to one person could be a cultural nightmare to someone else. Avoid using slang words that could have multiple meanings. Speak plainly and clearly without using the higher education/college words. Using high school level words will not make you appear uneducated and will avoid your talking over their heads.

Never skip ahead

Early in my training I had the tendency to skip ahead of the narrative to quickly get things done and get things under control for my patients. Unfortunately, you can’t skip ahead. We have to take in a little at a time and help the person work on things a little at a time. There are no quick fixes. Those will be short fixes for long term problems or not address the problem at all.

As a patient or as a counselor, we all have room to learn about people. If you have an experience that taught you a lesson, please message me to share. I will gladly post your perspective in hopes of helping someone else.

 

Why It Matters

I hear people saying “oh, it doesn’t matter because this or because that”. Does it not matter because you don’t want it to or because it really doesn’t? Almost everything we think, say and do matters. Whether it is a great act of kindness or a simple thought, it all matters in some way.

I see couples nitpicking over trivial things and it turns into an argument that should have been a simple little ant hill. Or parents picking battles with their children that they cannot win without leaving scars that may be difficult to mend. Or people making choices that will have a lasting impact only to satisfy a short term urge. It all matters!

Whether you are a Christian or not isn’t my first question when I speak to you. I want to know what you are feeling  and then we can figure out why.  Helping you find a balance in your life that will leave you healthy and happy is my goal.

Just remember, there is always a way out/up!

 

Setting an Electronics Limit: A guide for Parents

Setting an Electronics Limit: A Guide for Parents

Technology often proves how useful it can be to our daily lives. As a bonus, technology is great for people of all ages, both young and old. Of course, too much technology and electronics usage can also be harmful for family dynamics. That is why it is important to set an electronics limit on children. Although video games, television, and portable devices can keep children quiet, it can also prove harmful.

Without proper limitations, you are not always aware what TV shows your child is watching. You may not also be aware of any violent video games your child might be playing. Furthermore, too much time spent surfing the Internet can lead to questionable content and other such concerns for parents. It can also be hard to get a child to participate in family activities or fulfill chores if they are constantly stuck fiddling with electronics. Fortunately, there are ways to apply an electronics limit on your child.

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Tips for Parents: How to Find Time for Self-Nurturing When you are Nurturing your Child

Parenting is not an easy task, particularly when you are the parent of a young child. Almost every waking second is consumed by your child’s needs. Private potty time has become a thing of the past. You see fingers wiggling under the door, or perhaps your child demands to be in the bathroom with you. A hot meal has also become a distant memory. You feel the need to feed your screaming, cranky toddler before you ever take your first bite.

The problem is, parents must realize that it is just as important to nurture themselves as it is for them to nurture their child. Failure to nurture yourself can eventually lead to emotional distress and anxiety. While it may feel that you don’t have a single moment to yourself, there are ways you can self-nurture while also nurturing your child.

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Erectile Dysfunction: 8 Risks

Erectile dysfunction is characterized as the inability to get and sustain an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse. However, experiencing challenges related to achieving and maintaining an erection from time to time is not necessarily a cause for panic or concern. Erectile challenges can be related to excessive alcohol or drug consumption, medication side effect, an underlying medical condition, blood vessels, loss of interest in partner, stress, emotional conflict, etc. ErecNeedless to say, increased stress, physical, as well as mental health can cause or worsen erectile dysfunction.

Causes of Erectile Dysfunction- Physical:

·         High blood pressure

·         Obesity/morbid obesity

·         Diabetes

·         Heart disease

·         Athersclerosis

·         Excessive alcohol/drug consumption

·         High cholesterol

·         Result from medication side effects

·         Sleep disorders

·         Multiple sclerosis

·         Prostate treatment

·         Some invasive surgeries

Causes of Erectile Dysfunction – Psychological:

·         Depression

·         Anxiety

·         Intense stress

·         Trauma

·         Relationship challenges

·         Low or poor self-esteem

·         Exhaustion

Types of Erectile Dysfunction May Include:

·         Difficulty achieving an erection

·         Difficulty sustaining an erection

·         Decreased sexual desire/interest

Risk Factors Associated with Erectile Dysfunction Include:

·         Age (being very young or in advanced age)

·         Being overweight

·         Drug or alcohol abuse

·         Medication side effect

·         Invasive surgery

·         Injury

·         Trauma

·         Emotional Distress

Treatment for Erectile dysfunction can include psychotherapy, medication, Alprostadil urethral suppository, penile implants, pumps, blood vessel surgery, or a change in lifestyle, i.e., eliminating or reducing alcohol/drug consumption, change in medication, weight loss, stop smoking, nutritional changes, exercise, or relationship counseling. Many men that suffer from erectile dysfunction benefit from a combination of several treatment options. Erectile dysfunction does not have to be a destabilizing condition, treatment is available to restore healthy sexual functioning.