Sexual Assault and Abuse
Unwanted sexual contact almost always leaves emotional (and sometimes physical) scars and is a very traumatic occurrence. This includes any sexual act in which one person has not consented or is being coerced through power, age, responsibility imbalance, or with the use of drugs or alcohol. Acts like having sexually explicit pictures of you taken without consent, inappropriate touching, having someone expose their genitals, or even send you unwanted pictures are all considered sexual abuse and assault.
Sexual abuse and assault can have a lasting impact on your mental health.
Symptoms & signs of trauma from sexual abuse and assault
These symptoms and signs can show up immediately following the abuse or even years later in subconscious patterns or choices that you may not realize are related to the abuse you suffered.
- Flashbacks, nightmares, or reliving the assault over and over
- Shock, denial, confusion
- Inability to trust anyone
- Lack of self-worth
- Feeling emotionally numb
- Difficulty concentrating
- Inability to complete normal daily functions
- Withdrawing from others
- Issues with sexual identity
- Issues with sexual functioning
- Relationship issues
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Sleeping too much
- Lack of energy
- Memory issues
- Aches and pains
- Tense muscle
- Eating too much or too little
When is it time to get help?
Trauma from sexual abuse or assault can show up in many ways. In some cases, the effects are immediate, resulting in PTSD, anxiety, depression or other mental health issues. In other cases, the sexual abuse or assault that took places years ago can still be impacting your mental health today. If you are experiencing the symptoms and signs of trauma as a result of sexual abuse, you should consider seeking help. If you feel or suspect that you might be in an abusive situation, you should seek help immediately.
If you, or someone you know is in a dangerous or life-threatening situation, please call 911.
For immediate help outside of our office hours, throughout Alberta, please call 211 or one of the following distress lines:
- Edmonton: The Crisis Centre call 780 482 HELP (4357)
- Greater Edmonton region: Rural Distress Line at 1-800-232-7288.
- Calgary: 403 266 HELP (4357)
Trauma from sexual abuse and assault treatment methods
There are several different treatment methods that have been proven to be effective when working with sexual abuse trauma, including:
- Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based approach to treatment that focuses on how people’s thoughts, emotions, and beliefs influence their behaviour and how they perceive themselves.
- Person Centered Therapy differs from more traditional therapeutic approaches in the belief that, while the therapist has expertise in many areas, the client is the expert on themselves and their lived experiences. People are essentially trustworthy and have a vast potential for understanding themselves while also being able to ultimately resolve their own problems when guided properly.
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a treatment method that is similar to cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) but emphasizes building skills to manage stress, mental health issues, and the psycho-social aspects of relationship building.
Your therapist will work with you to determine the best treatment for your individual circumstances and unique needs.
What will I get out of treatment with Insight Psychological?
There are several ways to work through issues caused by sexual assault or sexual abuse. Insight’s caring Psychologists can work with you in order to provide a full evaluation or understanding and come up with the best possible plan to heal and work through issues.
If you have been the victim of sexual abuse or assault and are suffering from the mental and emotional aftereffects, Insight Psychological can help. Please contact us today. We have several convenient locations across Alberta.
Note: Insight can also provide treatment for abusers.