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Can therapy help those who have experienced sexual abuse?

Survivors of sexual abuse may struggle with long-term mental health consequences, including anxiety, anger, depression, and PTSD. Children who are 9 years old or younger are particularly likely to develop dissociative disorders as a result of being sexually abused. Therapy with a qualified professional allows survivors the time they need to process the resulting trauma in a safe environment.

When should someone seek treatment for sexual abuse?

If a survivor of sexual abuse suffers from lingering PTSD symptoms—such as flashbacks, insomnia, hypervigilance, or avoidance—they might consider starting therapy. Anxiety, depression, and anger that don’t ease over time and interfere with one’s career and personal relationships may require therapy. Survivors may also show signs of dissociation or disconnection from reality that cause them ongoing distress, which can be resolved with the assistance of a trained therapist.

How can you tell when a child needs treatment for sexual abuse?

There are psychological signs as well as physical evidence that a child or adolescent has been sexually abused. For example, they may develop a sudden aversion to a specific place or person. They may be prone to outbursts, worry excessively, appear fearful, or start withdrawing from friends and family out of the blue. After enduring sexual abuse, a child or adolescent may show indications of regression , like thumb-sucking or bed-wetting.

How do I recognize a good therapist to treat sexual abuse?

A skilled therapist in the treatment of sexual abuse will have experience treating survivors of sexual abuse and other forms of trauma. They will be familiar with a range of therapies that can be useful, possibly including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), EMDR and in some cases play therapy. A strong alliance and sense of trust is needed for all types of therapy, but it may be especially important for survivors of sexual abuse.