Surviving Abuse and Finding Freedom
Unfortunately, humans appear to have a dismal record regarding caring for their offspring. Over the past few decades, the United States has increased its awareness of childhood abuse; however, there continues to be a growing number of cases of child maltreatment. I am amazed and saddened, that the number of patients who come to me for counseling to address issues of childhood abuse continues to increase.
Child abuse includes physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse and neglect. Many survivors experience more than one type of abuse. And many describe the abuser (or abusers) as someone they trusted and cared about. Adult survivors are more likely to suffer anxiety/depression, difficulties with interpersonal relationships (including sexual difficulties) and participate in self-destructive behaviors (for example, substance abuse).
Many survivors have spent years as an adult avoiding thinking about their abuse. They try to run away from the memories and pain. Some may have kept the abuse a secret from friends and family. The abuse is too painful to remember, yet talk about. I have heard many patients describe the isolation they have suffered by keeping their abuse a secret. Many have also put the pain of their experience so far out of their minds that they literally forgot the abuse because the memories are incredibly scary and overwhelming.
It takes a lot of courage to make an appointment with a therapist to talk about your experience. It is scary not to know exactly what to expect. It is scary to tell a stranger, even if they are a therapist. I know. But the rewards of finally gaining some freedom from your childhood horror is incredible.
(Jill Boultinghouse, MA, MFT is EMDR Trained, Part 1 and has been working with veterans in Orange County for the past 10 years to work through their trauma. Bessel van der Kolk, MD reports “The speed at which change occurs during EMDR therapy contradicts the traditional notion of time as essential for psychological healing.”)