Overcoming sexual trauma can be a trying ordeal to go through. Bringing up the past can dredge up memories that may still be difficult to process, yet only by learning to face those struggles can you truly begin to heal.
The good news is that the road to recovery is one that doesn’t have to be traveled alone. Counseling services are readily available to survivors of sexual abuse regardless of where they are in the world. Moreover, the use of group therapy sessions and various exercises in expression means that everyone’s bound to find a counseling style best suited for them.
Counseling can give you access to a safe place to freely process your emotions while being surrounded by people who fully understand your concerns. Ultimately, reaching out and asking for help can be the first step to finding your strength again.
If you’re still unsure about taking this route, keep reading to find out the various ways counseling can support your recovery from sexual trauma.
1. Gives An Avenue For Self-Expression
Many victims of sexual abuse often retreat into themselves after the traumatic experience. Bottling negative emotions is thought to be a defense mechanism the brain utilizes in order to cope with such events. However, being unable to properly deal with your emotions can lead to even more mental health issues like depression, feelings of numbness, or, in some cases, even amnesia.
Counseling aims to address those problems in a manner and at the pace that’s suitable for each individual. Many survivors report constant feelings of helplessness after the sexual assault, so there are a number of counseling services meant to ease that issue. Those sessions can provide a safe and open space for you to assess your thoughts and emotions and then work on regaining your self-confidence.
Aside from encouraging you to verbally share your feelings, your counselor may utilize various experiential techniques to determine the right method to connect with you. Art, writing, and meditation exercises are some examples. These aim to help you refine your thoughts and feelings through introspective and creative outlets. Confronting your emotions can be the first step to taking back control of your life while significantly boosting your self-confidence.
Counselors are also there to educate and empower everyone in the face of sexual abuse. Companies and organizations are now ramping up efforts to introduce open discussions about the matter. Spreading awareness can help stop those incidents from occurring, whether they involve sexual harassment in the workplace, school, or any other location.
2. Allows You To Find A Healthy Support Group
A group therapy session can be an excellent form of counseling for victims of sexual abuse. Being in the presence of peers and moderators can help you feel at ease and validated as everyone shares their experiences. It can be beneficial to hear about other people’s struggles and triumphs alike as they go on the same journey you’re taking because you’ll feel less isolated.
Group therapy sessions also help tackle emotions like guilt and shame. Survivors of abuse may oftentimes feel as if they were complicit during the assault. Listening to other victims’ stories can help you understand the fact that sexual abuse can happen to anyone and that the event reflects on the abuser, not on you.
The physical presence of other people can be comforting, but it can also be a challenge for some. Anonymity and safety concerns are a couple of reasons certain individuals don't opt for group therapy sessions.
Thankfully, online counseling can be used to overcome those barriers to healing and wellness. Anyone can partake in group sharing activities in the comfort of their own home while remaining anonymous.
Family sessions are another type of group counseling that deserves special mention. The effects of sexual abuse can ripple throughout a person’s closest relatives. Family therapy serves to strengthen the connection between the victim and their loved ones and allow them to express their support for one another.
Female psychologist listening to young lady during personal session, depression
3. Aids In Long-Term Healing And Growth
An important aspect of good counseling is the positive influence it’ll have on your everyday life. The effects of an abusive experience might not completely disappear, but they can be managed. Celebrating small successes are crucial in retaining the lessons learned in counseling sessions.
Individuals may react in different ways after experiencing sexual abuse. Others find solace in interacting with as many people as possible, while the rest may build up walls in order to shut everyone else out. While those actions may help someone cope in the immediate aftermath, they may not always be sustainable practices in the long run.
Feelings of anger, guilt, and shame are some of the more prevalent emotions among victims of sexual abuse. They may affect your mood and relationships with those around you. Scheduling a counseling session will allow you to discover better methods to handle those emotions and other possible triggers.
Moreover, exercises performed with the assistance of a counselor will equip you with the necessary skills to deal with distressing situations. Mindfulness and deep breathing are just some of the ways to address negative emotions that might well up all of a sudden.
Counseling can help you find the best coping techniques for the long term. Self-discovery and expression will be the start of your journey. Learning how to apply those as you go about your days will be the next step toward recovery. In the end, you’ll get the quality of life you want and deserve.
Take A Deep Breath
Recovering from sexual abuse is a process one should take at their own pace. After all, different people would require different approaches. As such, working with a counselor is advisable so you can receive the right treatment for you. Of course, it’s equally important to be kind to yourself, especially on the most difficult days.