You are in good hands

I’ve been working with clients who have been the victims of sexual abuse and who have suffered from trauma for over 25 years and have learned a lot about how these issues can impact people’s lives. I have been registered with CVAP (Crime Victim Assistance Program) for the past 5 years and so I can work with clients who have been the victim of a crime. I also co-facilitated a group for 2 years on the impact of trauma and sexual abuse at Family Services in Vancouver. We taught the coping skills that help to overcome the blocks resulting from trauma. I’m also trained in EMDR (level 2), a highly effective tool in resolving trauma.

Types of abuse and trauma

I have worked with a lot of people who have been the victims of sexual abuse and/or have suffered from traumas such as…

  • Child abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Divorce
  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Infidelity and betrayal
  • Car accidents
  • Physical trauma
  • Witnessing violence
  • Witnessing the death of a loved one
  • Life or death situations

The impacts

People who have experienced sexual abuse or trauma often come into therapy …

  • With low self esteem
  • Carrying shame and guilt
  • Caving trouble functioning at work
  • Cever having reached their working potentials
  • Suffering from nightmares and flashbacks
  • Repressing anger
  • Having difficulty expressing emotion
  • Having difficulty with assertiveness and/or saying no
  • Suffering from depression and anxiety
  • Experiencing hair loss
  • Experiencing weight loss or weight gain
  • On a disability claim
  • Using dissociation as a coping method (often called tuning out or spacing out)
  • Self medicating with drugs or alcohol
  • Using cutting and self injury to cope
  • Withdrawing from healthy relationships
  • In abusive relationships
  • Having sexual intimacy issues
  • Suicidal
  • Suffering from disordered eating and/or eating disorders

The patterns of abuse and trauma

Often times, people have tried to contain what has happened and put it on a shelf, but the trauma becomes internalized. Our psyches try to protect us by pushing the past away and pretending it’s not there, but it leaks out into our lives anyway. Where there is abuse as well as trauma, the victim ends up feeling the shame and guilt that should lie with the perpetrator.

Their families and friends are often mystified and ask, “Why are they not thriving?” The victim’s feeling is often that there is something inherently wrong with them, that somewhere deep inside, they are a bad person and attracted or deserved what happened to them or that they actually allowed it to happen.

Regaining stability

In therapy, people…

  • Learn grounding techniques and containment skills – to be able to function again
  • Get to talk and be heard without judgement
  • Decide on which past events are useful to revisit and which are not helpful
  • Discover that their idea of who they are and their own worth might be someone else’s version of reality
  • Explore and change the negative beliefs that they have deep inside
  • Come to understand that they’ve made choices that protected themselves
  • Stop beating themselves up for past choices
  • Uncover the good memories that trauma has wiped out
  • Uncover strengths and memories of self protection and standing up against abuse
  • Get educated in what trauma actually does to the human body and brain
  • Learning about Post Traumatic Stress and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Objectively separate themselves from what has happened and put the blame where it really lies
  • Move from feeling like an accomplice, to a victim, to a survivor, to a thriver

Healing with education and understanding

When faced with a traumatic experience, 90% of people don’t go into a fight or flight response. They go into a frozen state. They are literally physiologically unable to speak or move. Most of us believe that we could have fought back or prevented what happened to us, but that may simply be untrue.

Once people understand the facts around what has happened in their lives, and that their “bad” choices have largely been made in attempts at self preservation, things begin to change. After therapy and working through these steps, I see people…

  • Reaching for positive coping skills in times of stress
  • Able to self soothe in times of overwhelming emotions
  • Able to make and maintain positive friendships
  • Able to make new kinds of choices
  • Taking courses and pursuing their careers
  • Feeling empowered
  • Setting healthy boundaries
  • Making amends within broken or damaged relationships
  • Thriving within their partnerships
  • Discovering and building a positive sexual identity
  • Interested and curious about ideas or hobbies
  • …and most importantly, living life

Resources for Sexual Abuse

Resources for Trauma