Historical Child Abuse
If you have been abused as a child, you are likely aware of some of the effects of this early life experience.
Whether it was physical abuse, emotional abuse or sexual abuse, the hurtful effects can impact your life in many ways such as:
- difficulty trusting others or being able to get close to another person
- struggle with low self-esteem to the point of having difficulty saying ‘no’ to others or have a hard time thinking others would want to be with you – that in some way you are damaged or there is something inherently wrong with you
- tend to focus on what others need and deny your own needs in order to be accepted – but end up feeling used and resentful
- you could have difficulty managing your emotions and act in ways that are impulsive and ultimately self-sabotaging
- you might be battling with anxiety and panic attacks as your world is perceived as unsafe and you expect to be hurt by others
- perhaps you have developed some obsessive compulsive behaviors, or become perfectionistic in a vain attempt of having control
- or have had a struggle with an eating disorder
- also you may go through recurring bouts of depression
- and you may have felt such pain from your memories of the past as to cut yourself to find release, or hurt yourself in order to ‘punish’ yourself or in some cases of being numbed out to actually feel something
Some these reactions listed above are also seen with those who have been sexually abused as children. Sexual abuse is about shame, secrecy and in some cases, questions about sexual orientation. Men sexually abused as boys may fear of becoming molesters themselves or of being homosexual. Those who are heterosexual may compensate by being hyper-masculine or very active sexually. Homosexual men may believe their orientation was what caused them to be abused or the early abuse caused them to become homosexual – all of this leading to feelings of guilt, shame and self-hatred.
Transformative change is possible! I believe in creating a safe environment for you to explore these past hurts in a way that leads to a coherent story, but at your pace. Simply telling the story over and over again isn’t helpful. One needs to make sense of it all, and work through the emotions that come up. This is analogous to needing to clean out the wound so that healing may take place – it may not be of every detail, but enough for the healing to start.
I have worked with clients who were diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, PTSD and underlying Depression, who were sexually abused as children. I have witnessed them go from being distraught, dissociative and highly suicidal to being at peace and open to a deeply loving relationship with their partners. Being grounded, present and aware of what’s going on for them was central in developing the space to find meaning or ‘connect the dots’; learn new coping strategies; and develop tolerance for the challenges life brings at times.