Christian Counseling for Sexual Abuse: You Have a Voice and a Future
Sexual abuse is a traumatic violation. In its wake, you may feel empty and hopeless. If you or a loved one is a survivor of sexual abuse, getting help is paramount for recovery.
At Newport Beach Christian Counseling, our compassionate and experienced staff provide Christian counseling for sexual abuse for children, teens, women, and men.
What Is Sexual Abuse?
Sexual abuse is defined as any sexual activity carried out upon one individual by another to which they do not consent. Sexual abuse isn’t limited to sexual physical contact but can also include other types of inappropriate sexual behavior. Violators can commit acts of sexual abuse using force, threats, or taking advantage of victims who are unable or unwilling to give consent. This may include coercion or sexual activity with a minor who cannot legally give consent.
Acts that constitute sexual abuse include:
- Violent acts that harm sexual parts of the body.
- Exposing children or teens to sexual acts or pornography.
- Non-consensual, forced physical sexual contact.
- Derogatory, sexualized statements.
- Invading a person’s privacy for the purpose of sexual gratification.
- Psychological sexual abuse, such as sexual harassment and indecent exposure.
Christian Counseling for Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse
Christian counseling for sexual abuse is undertaken with the goal of resolving the trauma and achieving healing. It’s important to fully understand how you reacted to the abuse and how it has affected your life.
You probably developed coping mechanisms to survive the pain. This is a natural response when you’ve undergone a traumatic experience. Part of recovery is sorting out any unhealthy coping mechanisms you might still cling to. Sometimes they can limit you from living a healthy, fulfilling life.
Through the healing process, our hope is that you’ll be able to move from surviving to thriving.
How can Christian counseling for sexual abuse help me?
- You will be able to acknowledge your memories in a safe setting at a pace that feels right for you.
- You will come to understand the effects of childhood sexual assault and realize that your responses are normal.
- You will be able to process your memories so that they lose their power over how you think and behave.
- You will be able to understand your own emotions and behaviors related to the abuse.
What to Expect
There are several therapeutic approaches often used in Christian counseling for childhood sexual abuse. These might include approaches commonly used in individual Christian counseling or Lifespan Integration, as well as:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy, which removes negative self-image and harmful perceptions, and instead,introduces healthy, grounded ways of thinking.
- Trauma-focused therapy deals with conditions like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and any other dissociative disorders arising from the abuse.
Christian Counseling for Adult Survivors of Sexual Assault
Sexual abuse and sexual assault can refer to several different kinds of sexual crimes, including any form of coerced or forced sexual contact with someone who does not or cannot consent.
Sexual assault has devastating consequences that can debilitate victims, and the intimate nature of the crime often leads to feelings of shame, victim blaming, and a lack of exposure or consequences for the abuser.
Statistics show that only a third of rapes are reported to the police. Victims often face skepticism and blame when they are brave enough to voice their experience. But on the other hand, repressing the trauma can have highly negative effects on a victim’s physical, mental, and emotional health.
If you have experienced sexual assault in any way, please reach out as soon as you can. Processing the emotions related to trauma is crucial in order for you to recover and live a life of freedom.
Christian counseling for sexual abuse can help you:
- Regain a sense of peace and normalcy.
- Address any PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), dissociation, or dissociative disorders.
- Fully relieve yourself of any blame you may feel.
- Overcome codependency and relationship struggles related to coping with assault.
- Fully process your emotions and understand how you’ve responded.
The Counseling Process
The trauma of sexual assault can cause shame, fear, depression, panic attacks, and more. Christian counseling for sexual abuse can address these problems in a compassionate, faith-based setting. The help you will receive is not just generalized guidance, but individualized therapy meant for your specific situation.
- Exposure therapy can help specific fears resulting from sexual assault.
- Lifespan Integration can help you process your story and find mental and physical healing.
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy are therapeutic methods used to process what happened to you and find the freedom to move forward.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy can help you grasp the way the assault has impacted you and make changes for the better.
No matter which method is right for you, you can be sure that Christian counseling is a place of safety, compassion, and commitment to helping you work through your experience and live a healthy and satisfying life.
Christian Counseling for Sexually Abused Children and Teens
It’s especially traumatizing for someone to be sexually abused during the formative years of childhood or adolescence. A child’s perspective on life will be permanently impacted. As the parent of a child who’s been victimized in this way, even if you only have suspicious to go on, please seek help as soon as possible.
If your child is able to process this damaging experience early, it will greatly assist them in living a healthy and functioning life in the future. Newport Beach Christian Counseling has counselors who are trained in helping children and teens in the area of sexual abuse.
Christian counseling for sexual abuse can help your child:
- Sort out the difference between healthy and unhealthy behaviors in relationships.
- Gain an ability to verbalize their experience.
- Build self-esteem, regain a sense of safety, and learn healthy coping mechanisms.
- Work through their emotions and develop self-awareness in how they’ve responded to abuse.
What to Expect in Counseling for Children and Teens
The method used in counseling a child or teen who has been sexually abused will depend on the individual, their age, and the circumstances relating to the abuse. It’s important to find a Christian counselor who is experienced with children of a similar age range and who is trained in working with issues of childhood or teen sexual abuse.
Newport Beach Christian Counseling can help connect you with a Christian counseling professional who will partner with the caregiver and the child to form a safety net for healing and recovery.
Sexual Abuse in Children and Teens: Warning Signs
The statistics related to sexual abuse of young people are extremely troubling. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys are a victim of childhood sexual abuse. This means the experience is not abnormal – a sobering reality that should be taken seriously.
The abuse can take many forms, such as trafficking, indecent exposure, molestation, incest, exposure to pornography, online solicitation, etc. Adults or older children or teens can be the abusers, and the abuser is almost always someone who the child knows.
By using a process of grooming and manipulating the victim into secrecy, the abuser is able to hide their actions. Victims are often too young, frightened, and/or confused to tell someone about the abuse. Parents and caregivers can help prevent abuse by being aware of common grooming tactics and behaviors that can signal sexual abuse.
Signs of sexual abuse in children include:
- An adult-level awareness of sexual topics.
- Fear of certain people or places.
- Sudden changes in mood or behavior.
- Sudden changes in eating habits.
- Nightmares, night wakings, difficulty falling or staying asleep.
- Being the frequent recipient of gifts from an adult, without a good reason.
- Acting out sexual scenarios through play or artwork.
Signs of sexual abuse in teens include:
- Substance abuse.
- Running away from home.
- Sexual promiscuity.
- Depression and anxiety.
- Poor grades and/or being socially withdrawn.
- Sudden changes in eating habits.
- Self-injury or references to suicide.
These indicators do not point to sexual abuse conclusively, but they indicate a need to assess a situation for possible abuse, especially if several factors are present. At Newport Beach Christian Counseling, we can help you work through the process of assessment and helping your child deal with any issue they are facing.
Sexual Abuse in Adult Relationships
Victims of sexual abuse in relationships may face many difficulties in understanding and being understood. Marital rape is often not even considered to be a possibility, yet it is a legitimate and devastating experience.
Any situation involving forced sexual activity is abuse, whether in a relationship or not. Abusers in relationships often use manipulation or guilt to control, coerce, or force the victim into unwanted sexual acts.
Signs of sexual abuse in relationships include:
- Forcing sex.
- Refusing to use protection.
- Coercing the victim to get involved in pornography or prostitution.
- Unwanted touching.
- Using sex as a means of control.
- Insisting on sexual acts that are unwanted, frightening, or against the victim’s personal values.
If you’ve experienced these behaviors in your relationship, please understand that this is an abusive situation and you do not have to endure it. The counselors at Newport Beach Christian Counseling understand the cycle of abuse. They believe that God has provided relationships for the purpose of growth, encouragement, and companionship, and the crime of abuse is the farthest thing from that. Christian counseling for sexual abuse can help you move through the process of recovering from relationship abuse.
What Are the Effects of Sexual Abuse?
No matter what form it takes, sexual abuse can produce very damaging effects, especially if it occurs in childhood. Both physical and psychological well-being are affected by a sense of fear, shame, betrayal, and anger. Flashbacks and nightmares are common after-effects for both children and adults. So is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
What Are the Symptoms of PTSD?
If you or a loved one is experiencing these symptoms, you may suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder:
- Suffering flashbacks or nightmares in which you relive the abuse or related fears.
- Avoiding triggers that remind you of the abuse.
- Feelings of being on edge, afraid, or easily startled.
- Negative changes in your feelings and beliefs.
Each individual processes the emotional damage caused by sexual abuse differently. For some, it may manifest itself in anxiety or depression, while others may struggle with self-destructive behaviors such as eating disorders, substance abuse, or sexual addiction. Relationship struggles often result as well.
Seeking help can make all the difference in allowing these behaviors to take root. God has not abandoned you in your pain, and we are here to walk through it with you with the respect and compassion you deserve.
FAQ About Christian Counseling for Sexual Abuse
Do men seek counseling for sexual abuse?
Sexual abuse is no respecter of persons. Men, women, and children are all affected by it. Regardless of your age, gender, or how long it’s been since you were abused, your traumatic experience is real and should not be ignored. Christian counseling for sexual abuse can help you recover and find strength, support, and hope.
In counseling for sexual abuse, is it okay for a woman to counsel a man or a man to counsel a woman?
This depends on your preferences and comfort level. Some individuals may feel more or less comfortable being counseled by the opposite gender. Whether you are counseled by a man or a woman, you will guidance in a confidential and professional setting characterized by integrity and compassion. Please don’t hesitate to share your counseling preferences when making your appointment.
Is Christian counseling for sexual abuse confidential?
Your Christian counselor has both an ethical and legal obligation to keep the therapeutic process confidential. Trust and safety are prerequisites for the recovery process. Confidentiality extends to all aspects of counseling other than mandated reporting and risks of harm to oneself or others.
How long does the counseling process last?
The duration of your counseling depends on your individual situation and how your recovery process proceeds. At your risk-free initial appointment, your counselor will help walk you through an assessment of your situation and goals for your treatment.
Will I fully recover?
Sexual abuse is a horrible thing to live through, and it’s normal to feel hopeless that life could ever be better. However, it is possible to find healing and restoration.Be encouraged that many people have walked this road before you and have found strength and purpose in their lives. This may not seem encouraging at this point, but our counselors will hold that hope for you until you can find it for yourself.
Find healing and strength with Christian counseling for sexual abuse.
Speaking out about abuse is incredibly difficult and takes a great deal of courage. At Newport Beach Christian Counseling, we fully acknowledge the difficulty of taking this step, and we are dedicated to helping you find peace and healing, and the light of Christ amid this darkness. Call us today at (949) 668-0335 or contact us online to schedule your risk-free initial session today.