Coping with a history of childhood sexual abuse(CSA) is a lifelong process, with many different highs and lows. No matter how long ago the abuse was, the characteristics of the abuse, or where you’re at in life now, there is always help available for those who need it. The most important thing is recognizing when you or a loved one may be in need of support, and accessing the appropriate resources designed to give you the help you need and deserve. One common, and often helpful, source of support after CSA is therapy. Therapy can come in many different forms and in many different settings. Some therapist may be psychiatrists, who can diagnose mental health issues and prescribe medications. Other therapists may be counselors who can provide you with strategies for handling stress or coping with various long-term mental and emotional impacts of CSA. Additionally, in between these two categories, there is a broad spectrum of other mental health professionals and therapy options.1
Finding a therapist is a personal experience
It’s critical to find someone who you trust and feel comfortable with, as well as an environment you feel comfortable in. The first therapist, counselor, or other expert provider you see may not be the right one for you. It is completely acceptable to try out a therapist and not want to disclose (or continue to disclose) your history to them. Your story is yours to tell, to whomever you want and in whatever situation you want to tell it in.
There are many ways to find a therapist in your area. Child sexual abuse hotlines such the National Sexual Assault telephone hotline (800-656-HOPE), the Stop It Now! Hotline (1-888-PREVENT), or the Darkness to Light hotline for childhood sexual abuse (866-FOR-LIGHT) can all help you find resources and trained professionals in your area. You can also talk to your primary care provider, or another doctor that you see and feel comfortable with, and see if they can recommend anyone in your area who may be able to help. Also, if you belong to a support group, either in-person or online, your support group mates may be able to recommend a professional for you to try. If you don’t have a support group, any of the hotlines listed, as well as your healthcare provider, may help you find a group in your area or online that you may be interested in.
- How Can Therapy Help? Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN). https://gravity-network.org/impact-childhood-sexual-abuse/disclosing-friends-family/. Accessed January 20, 2018.