Beyond Flight, Fright and Freeze: Recovering From Childhood Sexual Abuse
In the book entitled “The Courage to Heal” by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis which is a self-help book meant to help survivors of childhood sexual abuse and incest heal from their past, Davis uncovers the key secrets survivors need to heal for threatening and life-altering trauma. Healing from childhood sexual abuse and molestation can be one of those most horrific experiences of anyone’s life.
The psychic wounds that survivors experience during the event represent a lifetime of rage, inner-turmoil and a self-renegotiation – constantly processing the event in chasmic and unearthing ways. Childhood sexual abuse (CSA) survivors are at high risk for sexual revictimization, a lack of intimatcy in romantic relationships, and has a lasting effect on how the individual maps their experiences in their life. Typically at first, the experience goes against all that the child has come to expect from their grown up family members, neighbors, baby sisters and adults. The child – unwittingly – learns to rely on adults for their support, nurturing and care. The scars from overcoming CSA hold long-standing and painful roads for the childhood abuse survivor. The best means for therapeutically addressing what it means to live as a survivor of CSA begins with the course of sincere therapeutic/ scientific investigation. Two interventions for the CSA survivor include the works of renowned psychoanalysts David Yalom and David Siegal, Yalom, unlike, the modern theorist Spiegel believes that healing the effects of CSA in the survivor begins with the present-moment and orienting the survivor to focus on the positive attributes in their daily lives. While Spiegel details a much different account – Spiegels view is that successful treatment requires activation of traumatic material, exploration of the memories associated with the abuse cycle and their concurrent meanings and attributions for the individual.
The following therapies will be investigated in understanding the therapeutic efficacy in treating CSA: present-focused group therapy and trauma-focused group therapy. The fundamental assumption underlying present-focused group therapy for sexual abuse is that the traumatic experiences are bound to influence the survivor throughout their life, both conciously and unconsciously. One of the most important goals of present-focused therapy is that the survivor develops an awareness of their current maladaptive behaviors (alcohol use, promiscuity, rage and internalized aggression) or interaction styles that may have originated with the abuse. By learning how to cope and interact in more adaptive ways in the present-moment, the individual living with CSA will feel more in control of their day-to-day life and less controlled by the past.
The fundamental assumption of trauma group therapy is that it is vital for treatment that the adult survivor explores and restructures the memories associated with the abuse. Without a doubt, the traumatic experiences are bound to influence the survivor throughout their life including inability to feel intimacy, promiscuity, lack of empathy and possibly symptoms of PTSD. By learning how to access and control her own memories, the individual living with CSA will feel less controlled by their own memories.
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