One of the most common, least talked about and most difficult things to work through is sexual abuse. It hits right at the core of who you are. If you are a person who has dealt with it, then you know the depths of this statement more than you would like to. Sexual abuse hits right at our identity. It changes how we see ourselves and how we think about ourselves. If the abuse happened during childhood, there are likely little, or no, parts of who we are now that the lingering affects of the abuse cannot be identified in.
In this article, I am going to briefly outline four types of sexual abuse that I have begun to understand from my work as a Christian counselor with people in the therapeutic office. I am also going to speak as to why seeking out help is important and how professional Christian counseling is an effective way of treating and overcoming past sexual abuse.
One of the areas that God has given me the biggest heart for and most experience in is working with people who have experienced the trauma of sexual abuse. In my time as a therapist, I have noticed a number of categories that sexual abuse typically fall under as I work with my clients to understand and heal from what happened to them in their past. This will be discussed in the following four types.
Subtle type can happen in our youth or adulthood. It is the type of abuse that is hard and often awkward to name. This type isn’t overt because it doesn’t fall into the normal categories that we think of when talking about abuse because there was no overt molestation. This category requires us to expand our understanding about what classifies as healthy sexuality and what classifies as abuse. Examples of this might be children being exposed to inappropriate images whether printed or on the screen, inappropriate sexual talk, joking or overtures or teasing around issues of the body or sexual identity. On the flip side, this type of abuse can be attributed through the neglect to teach about healthy sexuality, or as is true in many households, an abhorrence or extreme discomfort regarding anything of a sexual or physical nature.
Confusing type comes with a lot more guilt, shame, conflict, and confusion because of its overt but highly conflicting nature. A person who was known and trusted most often is the perpetrator of the abuse that happened in this type. It might have been a family member, trusted relative, close friend of the family, trusted person in a position of authority, boyfriend or girlfriend. The confusing nature of this type of abuse is either due to issues of loyalty or enrollment and that makes it hard to understand what actually happened. Often the conflict comes because the victim feels responsible for the abuse. They might feel like they could have stopped it or that their will was aligned, (at least to a small degree), with what happened in some portion of the abuse.
Overt type is overt. It is easy to see who was to blame. It is easy to identify victim and predator. These cases often refer to rape or molestation that is against the will of the victim. There are still difficult issues to sort out in this type of abuse. Due to the obvious nature of the attack people normally seek out help right away and when the perpetrator is caught enjoy the satisfaction of justice more than with other types of abuse. I am not saying that this type of abuse is easier to deal with. Like the other types of abuse, there are still confusing aspects to it that include how the body reacted, shame around it happening, feelings of powerlessness and immense fear.
Ritual type is by far the most damaging and destructive of traumas a person can face to their body and soul. Normally this type of abuse happens over decades and involves immense enrollment, satanic ritualistic torture and sexual abuse, manipulation, and even programing. This type of abuse can lead to the literal fracture of a human psyche leading to Dissociative Identity Disorder, (formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder), in order to survive the terrible nature of this abuse. This type of trauma is treatable and one in which ProfessionalChristian counseling is, by far, the best means of healing.
When sexual abuse is not dealt with, the bonds of shame and guilt quickly start getting in the way of living a satisfying life and having healthy relationships. Some people experience depression, some lack of intimacy in their marriage, others have to deal with the nagging wondering about what people would think if their secret was found out. Ephesians 5 speaks very clearly about the power of the secrets that are carried in regard to our sexuality. They bind us and stop us from being who we are meant to be.
Did any of these categories stand out to you? If so, then know that you are not alone and help only is a phone call away. Whether you contact a professional Christian counselor, reach out to your pastor or seek a trustworthy friend to talk to, I really hope you open up about it. For more information on dealing with these types of sexual abuse, contact Seattle Christian Counseling today.
Images cc: freedigitalphotos.net – Barren Land” by Sura Nualpradid, “Double Rainbow in Lake” by Evgeni Dinev
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