The victim of sexual abuse often perceives that the abuser has total control. Sexual abuse is at epidemic levels; however, it is a difficult topic for parents, clergy, counselors, and victims to discuss. Perhaps it is difficult to acknowledge that the human heart is capable of that level of destruction. Perhaps stepping out of denial regarding personal abuses is daunting. Perhaps sexual abuse is poorly defined, relationships misrepresented, or effects diminished. More than likely all of these issues are entangled with a deep sense of shame and dread of speaking the truth.
- The depravity required to misuse the gift of sexuality causes an unpleasant reaction
- Details of abuse are offensive
- A sense of shame leaves the victim voiceless, reeling with incongruence and dichotomy: Love and hate, pleasure and pain, casualty and cause.
From a time before the abuse actually occurred, the abuser gained control of the victim. Images and words, praise and criticism, rewards and threats, admiration and condemnation, anxiety and fear are indelibly recorded in the victim’s memory. The code of silence, the bond of secrecy, the hint of guilt, even the fear of death forms a survival instinct of voiceless, powerless, coalescence between victim, system and perpetrator. This unspoken union persists, unannulled, until a victim finds the courage to wrestle with cognitive distortion and faulty perception in order to gain power over their fear. With help, the victim can learn to:
- Work through the difficult memories of abuse and reprocess mental imagery
- Speak truth to challenge the cognitive distortion and behavior disorder
- Acknowledge the difference between perceived and real danger
- Grieve the losses, abandonment, and betrayal that allowed the abuse to occur
- Take charge of the script for the next season in life