Sexual Trauma Therapy
Do You Feel Haunted, Frightened, or Confused by a Distressing Sexual Experience?
Have you had a sexual experience that was traumatic, or a history of early childhood trauma that has a grip on you, limiting the joy and love you want in your life? Do you shy away from people, places, and situations because you don’t feel safe? Maybe you avoid social gatherings because you just aren’t comfortable in your own skin. Do you get a familiar “prickly” sensation throughout your body whenever someone gets too close to you? It might feel as though something inside of you wants to collapse and pull inward, as if protecting you from something, whenever you try to engage in consensual sex. Or, if you are female, maybe you are aware of subtle but pervasive pelvic discomfort, but have no idea of where it came from and feel confused as to why it shows up during certain situations. Do you wish you could find a way to process and understand what has happened to you, feel comfortable with your body and sexual experiences, and move forward with a greater sense of safety, confidence, and engagement with life?
Navigating life after sexual assault can be a painful, overwhelming, and isolating experience. Perhaps you notice something dark and “eerie” arising when you are with your friends and they start talking about sex with their partners. It may be that thinking about this subject makes you feel very small, dirty, and disgusted. Maybe you feel a rush of shame start to flood your face, causing you to cast your eyes downward during sexual conversations. Or, perhaps you are blasted with a surge of red-hot anger, causing you to tremble from the inside out. You may feel like you are harboring a deep secret that you would like to get out, but don’t know who to share it with or how to talk about what you have survived.
If You Are Struggling With the After-Effects of Sexual Trauma, You Are Not Alone
Sexual trauma can cause havoc in your life, including how you are able to feel about yourself and trust, manage, and understand your emotions. The number of people exposed to sexual trauma is staggering. Whether you or a loved one has been experiencing symptoms related to sexual trauma for months or years, know that you are not alone and the trauma of sexual assault and abuse can happen to anyone. What you’ve experienced is not your fault, and you are not broken or weak. Some studies indicate that one in 10 children will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday. Studies indicate that only a small percentage of sexual abuse is actually reported, and that in up to 90 percent of childhood abuse, the child knows the perpetrator. The reasons for incidents of abuse going unreported are vast and varied. Sex is a difficult subject to talk about. Survivors often feel very ashamed and don’t want to relive the terror of the incident while retelling the story. Families often refuse to talk about it, don’t support the victims, neglect the professional help needed for the individual to address the trauma and rebuild his or her life.
The physical, emotional, and psychological effects associated with sexual trauma can impact all aspects of our experience. It can cause many chronic unexplained physical, mental, and emotional symptoms, such as pelvic floor dysfunction, chronic belly aches and digestive disorders, a pulling away from friends and family, low grade anxiety, depression, nightmares, difficulty focusing, general brain fog, and a feeling of being outside of yourself. You might even find it hard to trust people and to make and keep plans for fear of feeling unsafe. It is also common to struggle with a general plummeting sense of low self-esteem and self-compassion.
Again, you are not alone. These feelings, thoughts, and sensations are very common. Science has proven that the pain of social rejection, emotional pain, and physical pain follows the same neural pathways in the brain, which mean that you experience the same intensity with each. Emotional pain manifesting as physical pain is so common and only recently fully appreciated or understood. The good news is that no matter what you’ve experienced or how you are feeling today, with the help of a sexual trauma therapist, there is hope for healing. You can establish a renewed sense of safety, comfort, and relief.
Sexual Trauma Therapy CanHelp You Reclaim Your Life
Working with a sexual trauma therapist who specializes in physical and emotional developmental and nervous system dysregulation treatment can help in many ways. Sexual abuse counseling can encourage greater relational and intrapersonal skills and address developmental gaps that may have resulted from early childhood abuse. It can begin the process of repatterning neural pathways and promote improved interconnection within the involved areas of the brain so you can feel more whole, calm, and empowered in your body, mind, and emotions. And most importantly, sexual trauma therapy can build self-confidence and foster growth in the area of trust, both in oneself as well as others.
Sexual trauma, like any kind of trauma, is best resolved in a safe, non-judgmental therapeutic relationship. In sessions, I offer individualized, compassionate support and guidance so that you can share your experiences without fear of criticism or rejection. I can help you regain your power, learn how to correct the nervous system dysregulation you may be experiencing, and address the fear, sorrow, anxiety, or depression that may be suffocating you.
Through an integrative therapeutic approach, you can create a life without fear, chronic discomfort, or shame. You can disentangle the threads of your life that have become knotted as a result of your traumatic history, and gently yet powerfully reweave the tapestry of your life into the picture of your desires.
You may believe that sexual assault counseling can help you find healing, but still have questions or concerns...
I am fearful of dredging up old wounds, painful emotions, and memories of past hurts.
This is completely understandable, and again, you are not alone. Sexual trauma is so confusing, frightening, and painful, many individuals vow to never talk about it again. However, that approach will not help you to resolve the trauma and gain the self-power, self-esteem, and self-confidence you are looking for. Neuroscientists have found that just naming your experience and being open and curious about it rather than pushing it away can begin the process of rewiring neural pathways in your brain so that you can stop feeling stuck and overwhelmed. Together we can recreate the sense of security and trust you may have lost because of the incident.
I have tried therapy in the past and didn’t find it helpful. How will this be different?
When I hear people say that, I immediately question if the counseling they engaged in before was “talk” therapy. Traumatic memories are held primarily in the emotional and sensory parts of our brain, not our thinking and talking parts, and are best accessed through body-felt sensation. Body-centered sexual assault counseling and sexual abuse counseling have been proven to offer more complete and longer lasting results in the resolution of traumatic experiences.
How can I possibly feel better?
You can start by accepting the fact that the assault happened, recognizing that it is over, and acknowledge your innate strength for surviving. You can begin treating yourself with compassion. What you have gone through is significant. Find support from friends and family who will accept and validate your experience. Avoid those who may tell you to “move on” or “get over it.” Remember that the body has its own wisdom. It knows how to heal, given the support it needs. Even though the abuse happened, the memory of it does not need to interfere with your current and future life. It does not define you.
And most importantly, find a sexual trauma therapist who will treat you with empathy, skill, and care.
With Sexual Trauma Therapy, You Can Let Go of Shame and Embrace a Lighter Future
Regardless of what you have been through, you can find lasting healing. I invite you to call me at 925-330-9608 for a free 30-minute phone consultation. You can ask me any questions you may have about my role as a sexual trauma specialist and my practice.