There has been so much in the news lately about sexual assault, Donald Trump’s degradation of women as sex objects, the accusations of sexual assault in the Kavanaugh US Supreme Court nomination hearing, the Catholic Church child abuse scandal and the rise of the Me Too movement.
Victims can include women, men, children, and sex and/or gender diverse people.
Many people and children experience sexual assault of many kinds each and every day. This includes rape, groping, ravishment, child abuse, involuntary exposure to pornography, and sexual harassment. Whether the situation involved coercion or force, the victim is left damaged.
You may feel you have been damaged in both the short and long term by the sexual assault.
These are acts of violence, and while some are perpetrated with psychopathic intent, others are the result of poor social, education and moral training.
Sex education in schools and at home is often never enough and if we as a society do not teach young people what are safe, respectful and caring ways of behaving around sexual matters, the result is a higher incidence of sexual abuse.
As a society we are responsible for:
- Teaching children and people how to engage in consensual sex
- Protecting the vulnerable from predators
- Helping victims of sexual assault
- Sanctioning and re-educating sexual assault perpetrators
The harmful effects on victims need to be fully acknowledge and never minimalised.
Sexual assault is an act and crime of violence that can and does affect some victims for their whole lives.
The impact can be compounded when the reaction they receive, when they disclose, is less than supportive.
For many victims, the disclosure can be as traumatic as the assault itself, but in a supportive environment of friends, family, society and the law, that secondary trauma can be reduced.
While loved ones may help you, they do not have an objective point of view and may not have the skills to help you move forward.
It is important to get professional therapeutic help from a clinician who has been trained to help you regain your dignity, self-respect and sense of self.
You were not to blame for what happened, even though there may be people who might want you to feel that way in order to manipulate the situation.
If you are a victim of sexual assault, the state and some charities may provide some psychological support to help you.
You also have the option of investing in private therapy to change the way you see the assault, which can give you back your personal power.
Assault produces trauma, but people can recover from trauma very successfully and fast with the right kind of therapeutic help.
Do not let the traumas of what happened to you in life define your life but let your triumphs over them shape who you are.
Tracie O’Keefe is a psychosexual therapist and clinical hypnotherapist who has worked with victims of sexual assault for many decades. She is a member of the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA) College of Psychotherapy, Australian Hypnotherapists Association (AHA), and author of Inspiration for Survive and Prosper: Personal Transformation Out of Crisis.
She practices in her clinic in Sydney, Australia, and consults by Skype helping people overcome sexual abuse.
For help to overcome sexual assault telephone the clinic so we can help you get on with your life through Clinical Hypnotherapy and Sex Therapy. All therapy is strictly confidential.