Undergoing emotional, physical, or sexual abuse can lead to life-altering trauma. Symptoms of abuse can vary from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) to depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, and other problems. Although up to 1 in 3 Americans will experience some form of physical or emotional abuse in their lives (source: ncav.org), and more than half of Americans are survivors of sexual abuse or violence (source: rainn.org), stigma around talking about this issue remains significant. This means that besides the abuse itself, guilt or shame can add to the significant emotional burden carried by survivors.
How Can Therapy Help?
Even if the abuse was in the survivor’s childhood, the consequences can continue to reverberate far into adulthood. This is why it’s important for survivors of abuse to get therapy, no matter how old he or she is or how long ago the incident happened. An experienced therapist will work with the survivor to identify any mood disorders, interpersonal problems, or behavioral issues that stem from experiences of abuse. Then, the therapist will work with the survivor to learn how to cope with disruptive symptoms and let go of guilt or shame around the incident(s). Additionally, therapy is an important pathway for abuse survivors to learn how to rebuild self-esteem and pursue healthy relationships.