What is Child Sexual Abuse?
Child sexual abuse consists of attitudes and behaviors of an adult (usually male, but also female), done for his or her own sexual satisfaction, with a minor. Sexual abuse is widespread. We can talk about anal, vaginal and oral penetration or verbal propositions, explicit or implied, and exhibitionism. Child abuse includes any form of physical contact, with violence or intimidation and without consent.
The abuser uses emotional manipulation, blackmail, deceit, threats, violence, or seduction to make the child do what he/she wants. It is important to consider that a behavior is abusive when it is lived and experienced in this way by the person. And we must be clear about one thing: the victim is never guilty. The adult perpetrator is always responsible.
I don’t know if I was Abused
Some people who were abused as children do not remember what happened to them. This is because defense mechanisms initially protected them, to "keep under key" the whole painful and embarrassing experience in a "safe place". Defense mechanisms such as denial may prevent certain memories that are so emotionally charged, so the person can try to continue in their lives andact as if the abuse had not happened. It is not that the person forgot; it is that the person is acting as if it never happened. This is the way to survive his tragedy, to achieve "equilibrium" and to avoid conflict. These defense mechanisms are very important for human beings and psychological survival, but as time passes, this way of living can become an impediment to healing.
Other people remember vaguely some experiences or feelings, but they are not clear whether or not the memory is reality or a product of his imagination. Others, even remembering what they lived, they experience it as something inconsequential. They say: "It was just one time", "It was not so serious", or "Maybe I'm making it up." The horror and confusion of knowing that was trueis so large, they tend to minimize what happened in order to continue to survive.
There are others who remember well the abuse they were subjected to as children. Constantly reliving many of the emotions experienced in childhood: insecurity, helplessness, vulnerability, anxiety, distress, confusion, loneliness, etc. They may also have difficulty sleeping and often have nightmares. These memories do nothing more than open a wound that has never healed. A wound that seeks to be treated. And there is a constant internal struggle that needs to be addressed.
If you are in any of these situations, seek psychological help. Time may soften the trauma a bit but not cure your problem.
Am I Normal?
Not all people who have suffered incest or have been sexually abused as children are affected in the same way. Each person is unique and each case is different. There are several variables that must be taken into account when explaining these situations: the duration of the abuse, the ability of resilience, the relationship with the abuser, the child's personality, the family support and the reaction after they find out about the abuse, age when the abuse started, among others. These factors may affect the severity of the problems and symptoms that may present mentally, physically, emotionally and socially. All aspects of the person may be affected, and the more time that passes without help, the worse it will be.
If you want to read more about the symptoms of a Sexual Abuse, you can read the articles, " I am responsible for what happened to me "and" Telling Secrets ". Link
Men Abused as Children
For many people, revealing that they were victims of sexual abuse or incest is not easy. And for a man, often it is even more difficult because of prejudices and beliefs that exist even today, in society. They may say, "If you were abused by a man, you're gay", "If you were abused, you will do the same with other children", "Men do not cry; if you cry you're a sissy".
These doubts and beliefs may lead the adult victim to have intense moments of pain, anxiety, guilt and shame about their sexuality. Often these feelings and emotions can lead them to harmthemselves, have suicidal thoughts or have addiction problems. You can find more information about symptoms in the article "Revealing Secrets". (Link to this article)
Remember that a person’s sexual orientation has nothing to do with being sexually abused or not. Gay people are gay not because they were abused. They're gay because it is their sexualorientation. In fact, most men who molest other children are heterosexual and most children who survive sexual abuse are, too. Moreover, not all people who abuse children have been abused as children. Nor are all the people who have been abused as children recreating what happened to them, as children.
Remember that the person who sexually abuses a child does not do it for sexual satisfaction; they do it to feel that they can control, humiliate and have power over another person.
Somethink can be done…
When a child is repeatedly the victim of abuse, when no one defends him, when he tries to protect himself and is punished, when her needs and emotions are ignored, when experiencing a situation of pain, stress and extreme frustration, the child enters into a state of depression and anxiety, permanently. In parallel, to survive, she may learn to enter into a state of resignation and hopelessness and this can turn into a life pattern, if she does not receive counseling. Many times, this life pattern can lead to the person not seeking psychological help.
Living in a constant state of pain and threat, helplessness and frustration causes much suffering to the little child. He begins to think, "I cannot change this; no one can help me", and little bylittle, he starts to give up. He does not defend himself; his nervous system shuts down and his emotions become frozen; his body contracts. The little one is no longer himself.
If you were abused, you know that the implication of this fact does not finish when the abuse ended. This is a heinous and inhuman act that breaks the personal, emotional, sexual and energylimits of the little one. This causes deep wounds that leave scars physical, emotional, spiritual and psychological and cause a number of symptoms. However, these symptoms may be the seedsto initiate the recovery process.
In therapy, you can rescue "that little girl" that remained frozen, so she can return to live, breath and regain control of her life.
Help for Families and Couples
When a sexually abused person has a partner, the dynamics of the relationship is affected, positively or negatively, depending on whether or not the victim maintains the secret of the incident. The relationship can also be affected depending of the support they receive from their partner. Depending on the route he/she takes, it is possible to move forward together, stronger as a couple and as a person. On the other hand, the relationship can be seriously affected if they decide not to work on processing traumatic events and this will affect their relationship.
It is essential that both partners receive psychological help because for a person to know that their partner or loved one was abused, as a child can be overwhelming. This news may create tension in their relationship. For some people, finding out about this is so stressful that they prefer not to hear or to leave, because for them to imagine a small child, helpless in that horrible situation, generates, anger, confusion, bitterness, sadness, frustration, etc. and they are not able to bear it. It is not that they don’t want to; it is jut that it is too much for the system to digest; they have trouble accepting that the person they chose to share their life with went through this experience and now are having symptoms, due to the trauma.
The important thing now is that you understand that even though the abuse happened many years ago, the consequences of the abuse on the physical, mental and emotional level are still there.A person who has been abused as a child: (a) has a number of behaviors and symptoms that may seem inexplicable to their partner, especially when they re-experience those memories thatparalyzed, confused and distressed them. If a partner does not know that these symptoms are normal, that there is a reason to have them, and that there is a way to help the loved one get through this time, the relationship may begin to suffer. The person may believe that he did something wrong or that he is against his partner and end up feeling abandoned and not taken into account. So the couple and the relationship will suffer.
The most important thing you can do for your partner is: educate yourself about the consequences of being sexually abused; attend therapy so you can work on the emotional conflicts you may be experiencing; "learn to be there"; listen to and respect her need for silence; respect her/his healing process. A survivor of sexual abuse needs a partner that is predictable, consistent, loyal and trustworthy. The abuse was just something that happened to your partner and is only one aspect of them; it is not who she is.
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