Monday, April 11, 2016

Childhood Sexual Abuse: The Overview


About the age of my first abuse.
I was sexually abused as a child, from ages 3 to 15.  I spent most of 2015 healing from it, and the work continues in 2016.  I’m ready to share my story and try to find a way to help protect children, and help others who have been abused.  As a start, here are the resources I've found that have been most helpful to me.  The first line of defense is your family doctor and a good therapist.  After that, the best resources for me have been books, with information and community found on the web a close second.  I'd love to hear from other survivors.


If you are a survivor of childhood sexual abuse

Books
  • The Courage To Heal, by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis, is the top of any such list for a reason.  It's the biggest, most thorough book on the topic.  It is aimed at female survivors; I'd love to hear from any male survivors who have read it, with their opinion on whether it was helpful.
  • Allies in Healing, also by Laura Davis, is specifically aimed at partners of survivors.  I've read (most) of it, and I'd recommend the chapter of The Courage to Heal for partners first, then this book if you want more information.  Some of the stories are intense, so go slowly if you choose to read part II.  This book covers both male and female survivors and their partners.
Online Resources
  • There seem to be many online forums for survivors of childhood sexual abuse and sexual assault.  www.aftersilence.org  comes up first on a web search, and seems typical. I found it welcoming and supportive.  It's not the easiest to navigate; you have to find and click on the Message Board link and sign up, and then certain forums have a password you need to request.  Once you've done that, though, it's an easy way to anonymously tell your story and get support by others who have been through the same situation.
  • There are more and more Facebook groups you can belong to.  Many are "closed" groups, so your Facebook friends won't see that you belong to the group, or anything you post there.

If you are worried about a child close to you

  • By far the best online course I've found comes from LittleWarriors.ca in Alberta. You have to request access to it, but in about 90 minutes it takes you through the current state of research, busts open some myths, and gives a ton of actionable information on how to protect your children and how to deal with sexual abuse if it does happen.  There is also a downloadable workbook that goes along with it.
  • There are several good write-ups on the internet about what to do and what not to do if you suspect your child may have been abused.  I like the one from the Gatehouse:  http://www.thegatehouse.org/gatehouse-parents  There are similar versions of the information for youths and children.