Adult Survivors of Sexual Abuse

Did you know that five percent of girls and seven percent of boys are sexual abused by the time they reach eighteen? Sexual abuse may involve any type of sexual contact or non contact between an adult or older teen and a child. Anyone can be an abuser, especially if that person is perceived by the child to be in authority. For an adult survivor of sexual abuse there is always an incident, symptoms, and solution that occur with the victim. There are many types of sexual abuse incidents, which can be either contact or no contact.

Examples of contact abuse include: physical contact or touching offenses that include fondling, touching sexual organs, masturbation, making the child touch the adult sexually, and vaginal or anal penetration with self or objects. Non touching sexual violations include: exposing a child to pornographic material, indecent exposure, leering and deliberately putting the child in the position of witnessing sexual intercourse. In Heather’s case she was sexually abused by her stepfather from the ages of eight through fifteen, which included fondling, digital penetration, and intercourse.

Any sexual abuse between a child and trusted individual will scar virtually all facets of a victim’s life. Secondly, although a victim was abused years ago, that person may still have symptoms or even develop symptoms. For instances, Heather at the age of 35 has regained her memory of the sexual abuse and is experiencing severe symptoms of delayed rape trauma syndrome. To a victim of sexual abuse sex may feel like an obligation, they may suffer from vaginal pain, erection problems, and emotional detach themselves during sex.

Obesity may also be a symptom if the victim believes she was abused because she was pretty, now she perceives obesity to be unattractive in hopes of lowering her chances of being abused again. Anorexia is another symptom that most commonly leads to suicide. Many of the more noticeable symptoms are your basic emotional immaturity, depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and inability to see harm in their actions. Thirdly, once the symptoms are recognized an intervention can be set in play. One major option is therapy.

The possible types of therapy include a posttraumatic stress treatment model, which uses a combination of prolonged exposure and cognitive processing or cognitive restricting. There are also several techniques that maybe appropriate for a victim such as: relationship-building strategies, questioning family-of-origin techniques, writing techniques, gestalt work, role playing psychodrama, transactional analysis, inner-child work, hypnotherapy, guided imagery, cognitive strategies, behavioral training, and life-skills training.

Taking a look at Heather’s case, her interventions included both individual counseling and support group work. When she participated with the support group work it gave her encouragement, validation and information she needed to free herself from guilt, shame and remorse. There is no, one technique that is perfect or must be used for every victim. An intervention is usually going to be manipulated for treating an individual’s unique issue. In conclusion, the effects of child sexual abuse on an adult survivor are damaging.

A sexual violation is usually committed by an individual the victim often comes in contact with on a regular basis. Although a victim was abused as a child, in adulthood is when many of the symptoms occur. There are numerous intervention methods in society today to help any person that has been a victim of childhood sexual abuse. I learned from Heather’s case that there is no quick fix to these problems. It takes a great deal of expertise, patience, empathy, and personal resiliency to work with such a case.