What To Do When You Have Been Sexually Abused
Sexual abuse, as defined by the American Psychological Association, is unwelcome sexual activity under threats, force or taking advantage of the victim who does not have the power to resist or consent. Victims of sexual abuse often know their perpetrator. Sexual abuse can have many negative effects on the victim including anxiety, fear, poor self-esteem and post-traumatic stress disorder; children who have been sexually abused can continue to experience these psychological effects into adulthood.
If you have been sexually abused and feel that you are in danger, the most important step to take is to contact emergency services (911 in Fla.). You also can talk to family members, friends, therapists and social workers about the abuse, and you may find it helpful to visit a medical center. If you are living with the perpetrator, it is important to get away from him/her, and that could mean staying with friends or family members or even at a shelter or refuge center.
Following the abuse, you may experience feelings of shock, isolation, guilt, vulnerability, distrust and anger. You may feel as though you have lost control over your life or have trouble concentrating, sleeping or eating.
To cope with the abuse, you may find that writing about it and your feelings can help to reduce stress. You also can talk to a therapist or counselor, who can help you understand and work with the feelings you are experiencing. And group therapy gives you the opportunity to talk about your experience with other people who have suffered from similar experiences.
If you are a victim of sexual abuse, remember that it is not your fault and that it is not okay what happened to you. Always remember that there are people and resources that can help you. Trust yourself, and do not be afraid to reach out to the appropriate people following an incident of sexual abuse.