Past Sexual Abuse & Love-Life
Sexual abuse causes an injury to the mind. At earlier times in our lives when we were vulnerable, sexual abuse was psychologically traumatic. This traumatic experience was registered as an injury in the mind. Psychological injuries result in defensive reactions whose purpose is to cope with traumatic aftereffects.
Sexual abuse has an impact on what you believe and feel about yourself and what you believe and feel about other people. A child will believe that there is something wrong with him or her and take responsibility for sexual abuse as a way of coping with the fact that it happened. This sort of reaction is reinforced by the disbelieve of other adults. This reaction to sexual trauma creates feelings of shame, guilt, and low self-esteem.
Sexual trauma also affects what you believe and feel about other people. A belief in the trustworthiness of others is replaced with a belief that other people cannot be trusted and are dangerous if approached without some measure of defensiveness. The end result is interpersonal relationships that are experienced as suspicious, fearful, and with limited intimacy.
Significant damage is done to a victim’s ability to give and receive love in adulthood. When you feel bad about yourself its difficult to give the love you have to give. You feel damaged and your ability to love is disrupted by that feeling. When you feel other people are potentially hurtful, this feeling interferes with your ability to receive the love someone is giving you.
You don’t trust that what is being given is actually loving. These traumatic aftereffects are further complicated by the tendency for unhealed victims of sexual trauma to repeat psychological and interpersonal aspects of their trauma in adult love relationships. Either hurting others or being hurt by others unconsciously chosen to re-enact the painful experience of abuse over and over again.
Effective treatment for sexual abuse involves:
1. Remembering sexual trauma by taking the memories out of the closet and getting past the embarrassment and shame for the purpose of psychological and social healing;
2. Allowing yourself to tolerate some re-experiencing of the emotions that accompany the trauma in the presence of a skilled person, like a trained professional with experience in the treatment of post-traumatic illness;
3. Re-imagining your abuser as a ‘sick’ individual in order to re-locate the responsibility for the abuse back to him or her and reestablishing yourself as a ‘victim’ of abuse with no responsibility for it;
4. To re-establish your sense of yourself as a whole and positive person beyond the influence and effects of the sexual trauma;
5. Once the memory of the sexual abuse experience is corrected in your mind as outlined above, you allow the memory to decay overtime as you become good as dismantling any and all evidence of its limiting influence wherever it shows up in your beliefs and feelings about yourself or your relationships. Dr. T. Jordan