Destination Hope Blog » Overcoming the Trauma of Sexual Abuse

Overcoming the Trauma of Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse, and the trauma it can cause, may leave a person feeling out of control, angry, frustrated, depressed, or anxious about the future. The psychological impact of abuse can linger for months and even years, preventing them from recovering and achieving success in their life. Unfortunately, sexual abuse is alarmingly common; more than 200,000 cases are reported each year in the United States. However, the majority of incidents go unreported, often out of fear, shame or guilt.

Abuse and Drug Use

Sexual abuse and drugs and alcohol have a very complicated, intertwined relationship. They have much in common – sexual violence and addiction can happen to anybody and cross all racial, socioeconomic and cultural boundaries. Substance abuse and sexual assault also carry what most would agree is an unjust social stigma. In some instances, sexual assault is contributing factor in an individual’s drug addiction or alcoholism. At the same time, substance abuse can be part of a group of behaviors that makes an individual more likely to be a victim of sexual abuse.

When the Sexual Abuse Comes First

Sexual abuse is trauma, and people who have undergone a serious trauma often experience high levels of stress, PTSD and other severe psychological implications. It’s common for these individuals to use drugs and alcohol to cope with the pain of what happened. When someone is abusing drugs or alcohol in an attempt to block out a painful part of their past, it’s easy to see how an addiction can develop.

When the Substance Abuse Comes First

Substance abuse is high on the list of behaviors that increase an individual’s risk of becoming a victim of sexual abuse. When a person is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, their ability to make decisions is impaired and they are unable to give their consent. Estimates of sexual assault victims being under the influence of alcohol at the time of their attack ranges from 30 to 79 percent. Often the perpetrator perceives people under the influence to be more vulnerable to their attacks.

Trauma and abuse have widespread negative impacts on your health, wellbeing and sobriety. In addition to working on your recovery at drug treatment, someone will work on overcoming any past trauma or abuse. This is called trauma-informed care. Any such unresolved issues can lead to a number of difficulties including hindering the recovery process. Even trauma and abuse that occurred decades prior can still leave a significant mark on the way you lead your life today. This is because a host of problems are associated with these experiences including difficult emotions, upsetting memories, troubled relationships and emotional connections and the desire to escape, often through self-medication.

The damage from abuse, especially sexual abuse, whether it happened in a person’s childhood, or as an adult, can live on long after the event is over. Time alone is usually not enough to recover from the damage caused by this kind of experience.

How to Overcome Sexual Abuse Trauma

Treatment for trauma caused by sexual abuse and violence can help a person overcome the psychological impact of the trauma, regain control of their life, and give them the opportunity to live a happy, healthy life.

The first step in healing is finding safety with a trusted and nonjudgmental family member, friend or therapist and telling them what happened. You can choose not to report the crime to the authorities; however, many people find reporting it to be beneficial for their recovery and a way for them to retake control of their life.  Reporting a sexual abuse crime can help prevent others from being harmed, even if the assault occurred long ago, and may also bring other victims forward and help them to seek treatment and find a path to recovery.

At your treatment center of choice, you will work to resolve your past traumas and experiences with abuse and substance abuse. This therapy helps you uncover the underlying causes of your addiction as you participate in individual, group and family. You will work through past experiences and difficult emotions to develop deep, personal insights that create a strong foundation for improved mental health and a solid recovery process. Stress management will help you to effectively manage your stress in a healthy and productive manners.

You may have been through a lot due to past events, but the cycle of pain and addiction does not have to continue. Healing from sexual abuse and recovery from substance abuse does not happen overnight, but many find treatment to successfully overcome their trauma and live a healthier life without addiction. Learning to be patient with yourself and giving yourself time is vital for recovery. But recovery can happen with proper professional help and attention.

Destination Hope is a full-service alcohol abuse, drug addiction, and health treatment facility in Florida for people who suffer from substance abuse and mental health disorders. If you or someone you love is a victim of sexual abuse or other trauma, please call us today. Taking the first step is hard but our admissions experts are here for you.

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