More than 400 children are sexually abused every week in Britain which is one every 20 minutes. There can be no doubt that abuse suffered by a child will result in long term psychological problems. It is vital that those who have been abused seek some form of help as soon as possible.
Most adults who are abused as children never speak about the abuse to anyone. At Jordans most of our clients have not spoken about the abuse until they are into their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. Most of them find that abuse has had devastating consequences not only throughout their childhood but also into their adult life.
The psychological effect result in difficulty maintaining relationships with family and friends. Some have very low self esteem and think they are not worth caring for. This is sometimes because this is what they have been lead to believe by their abusers. Some suffer from depression and it is not uncommon to question their own sexuality particularly if abused by a member of the same sex. It is often the case that my clients turn to drink and illicit drugs to block out memories. Some self harm and often attempts to end their life.
The bottom line is that you need to seek help immediately. Talking about what has happened to you can make an enormous difference and can feel like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders. Beware though as sometimes talking about the abuse can often lead to regaining other memories. It is important that you seek help and speak to a professional and then you can decide what to do next. You probably think, how can talking to a complete strange possibly help me. You are not alone, most people think counseling will not help but the majority do get something out of it.
I have colleagues who act for victims who were abused by members of their own family and due to fear of being ostracized by other family members, they stay silent and often they believe they do not deserve help. This makes the person feel even more alone that they may previously have done. This is why it might be useful to speak to a counselor, i.e. someone who does not know you and is not going to judge you.
Nightmares and flashbacks are common as is felling anti-authority. I would say 99% of my clients do not trust authority. It is no surprise really considering they were (in most cases) taken into the care system for their own safety but in actual fact were treated so badly within the care system, they were probably safer staying outside the care system. Often this means that a person will not report abuse as they do not believe they will be treated seriously or be believed at all.
Trust becomes a huge issue. How can you trust anyone when people who were supposedly there to care for you, did such heinous things to you? If you want to move on then you need to learn to trust again and this is something that a counselor or psychologist can help you with. There are various types of rehabilitation available such as cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). This can be done in a group or one to one. The approach focuses on thoughts, emotions, physical feelings and actions. It teaches you how each one can have an affect on the other. CBT is useful for dealing with a number of issues, including depression, anxiety and phobias.
There is also something called EMDR (Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing) which is a form of therapy used to treat traumas such as war experiences, natural disasters, road accidents, rape and assault.
There are various organisations you contact and speak in confidence to. The Samaritans or Victim Support are just two of these organisations.