Adult Survivors of Sexual and Non-Sexual Abuse, Assault and Trauma

What are types of Sexual and Non-Sexual Trauma and Abuse?

Abuse can be:

  • Sexual
  • Verbal
  • Emotional
  • Physical
  • Abandonment
  • Neglect
  • Spiritual

Abuse can be done by:

  • Family members including extended family and people functioning as family (Incest)
  • Strangers
  • Dates
  • People in positions of power, trust and authority such as a teachers, religious leaders, governmental leaders, child-care providers, neighbors, etc.

Sexual and Non-Sexual Trauma and Abuse happens to children and adults both to women and men.

Experiencing and/or witnessing violence is traumatic.

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How many people are victims of Sexual and Non-Sexual Trauma and Abuse?

  • 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime usually by age 18 and by someone she knows
  • 1 in 6 men will be sexually assaulted in his lifetime
  • 47 out of every 1000 children are reported as victims of child maltreatment including abuse, neglect and child abandonment
  • Nearly one-third of American women report being raped and/or physically abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives
  • Studies show that homes in which alcohol or other drug abuse happen are more likely for abuse to occur

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What are negative effects of Sexual and Non-Sexual Trauma and Abuse?

Among problems survivors may experience are difficulties with: trust, relationships, sexuality, depression, anxiety including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), low self esteem, difficulty setting boundaries and/or addictions. Not all survivors experience Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), but many do at some point in their lives.

To learn more, explore information I have compiled on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and the Negative Effects of Trauma and Abuse on Sexuality.

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If you have been abused does that mean you will abuse someone?

No, most people who have been abused are committed to not doing what was done to them to someone else and are able to carry out that commitment. Some people who have been abused do abuse others. There is effective help for people who have abused and want to stop or are afraid they will abuse. The first step is asking for help.

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Is there a connection between addictions and trauma and abuse?

Yes, statistics do show a correlation between trauma and abuse and addictions.  Addictions are a way for abuse survivors to try to cope with the emotional and sometimes physical pain of the abuse.

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Does everyone who has been abused need therapy?

No, everyone does not need therapy.  What has been show to be helpful in healing is talking to people who believe you and support you about what happened and how you feel. Having a community of people who validate you and your whole range of feelings is helpful. Being isolated in your pain and suffering is harmful for healing.  Sometimes your usual support system is not enough as you deal with the difficult issues that arise at times in your life related to the trauma.

A therapist can be helpful at any point in this healing process.

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Can people recover from abuse and go on to live happy lives?

Definitely yes.  It can take a lot of work to heal from the abuse. Fortunately help is available so you don’t have to do it on your own.

Help can come from many sources. Family, friends, spiritual communities, teachers, workplace are all possible supports for someone who is struggling with trauma.  Additional assistance may come from groups such as twelve step groups.

Psychotherapists who have experience dealing with these issues can provide professional assistance in resolving negative effects of trauma and abuse.

Trauma and abuse affect you in significant ways but do not have to forever shape your world.

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My partner – spouse is a survivor of abuse and trauma.  I’m having a hard time dealing with the fallout of the abuse and trauma.   What should I do?

Partners of survivors may feel reluctant to talk to their survivor partners about their feelings because they don’t want to burden the survivors any more than they already are with the aftereffects of trauma and abuse. They care about the survivors but also feel many uncomfortable feelings themselves that weigh them down.

I invite you to come in to sort out your thoughts, feelings and experiences in relation to trauma and abuse. You are affected by your partner’s trauma because you care about and are in relationship with someone who has been traumatized or abused.  You experience the ripple effect of abuse. It is important for you to get support for yourself as well as for your partner.

Partners of survivors often feel isolated. They don’t know how to help their loved one or themselves. They fear breaking the trust and confidentiality of the survivor by talking to another person about what has happened to the survivor- especially if the abuse was by a family member and is not common knowledge. Yet if they have no one with whom to talk about and sort through these difficult issues they are in effect being secondarily traumatized by the abuse.

In counseling, I help partners of survivors to process their own experience. Then they can better communicate with the survivor and together they can problem solve regarding the negative effects of the trauma on their relationship.

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What happens in therapy for trauma and abuse survivors?

Among the issues we work on together are:

  • Safety-it’s hard to work on growth and change when you feel unsafe
  • Developing trust with trustworthy people
  • Being able to set healthy boundaries
  • Taking good care of yourself – having a balanced life
  • Identifying and using your strengths to help you grow and heal
  • Help you build and use your support system
  • Identify negative effects of trauma and abuse
  • Learn about coping strategies you have used to survive, decide which strategies are no longer useful for you and develop and use coping strategies that function better for you
  • Processing thought, feelings and behaviors related to the trauma
  • Strategies to deal with trauma including flashbacks, dissociation, etc
  • Understand and clarify your own meaning to the events that have happened to you
  • Be able to safely express your whole range of feelings
  • Learning about the effects of abuse on you – each person has a unique response to trauma
  • Feeling more resolved about the events that happened to you
  • Be able to be intimate with others in the ways that you choose

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What services do you provide for survivors of Sexual and Non-Sexual Trauma and Abuse?

  • Assessment and treatment planning
  • Referral to other appropriate services as indicated
  • Individual psychotherapy
  • Counseling for couples dealing with the effects of abuse
  • Referral to resources, i.e. group therapy, support services
  • Coordination with other providers if indicated, i.e. medication management, counselors, group

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What about services for child victims of Sexual and Non-Sexual Trauma and Abuse?

I am not a child therapist.  I refer children to psychotherapists who have experience working with child victims of Sexual and Non-Sexual Trauma and Abuse.

I work together with other treatment providers to provide coordinated counseling services for family members.

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Where can I find out more about Sexual and Non-Sexual Abuse and Trauma?

Explore these references for more information:

  • Shari’s Blog for articles, news and selected informational videos on these subjects and related topics including:

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