Warning: Trigger Alert This article delves into sensitive topics related to childhood abuse, which may evoke strong emotions for some readers. We advise reading it in a secure and supportive environment, ensuring you are emotionally prepared. If you choose to proceed, remember that your feelings are valid, and reaching out for support is a sign of strength. This content aims to foster understanding and healing by affirming that you are not to blame, and you are not an abuser. You are not alone, and there are resources available to assist you on your journey toward recovery.
As I reflect on the day's work, I am reminded of the deep impact that childhood abuse has on countless individuals. The statistics paint a grim picture – 1 in 4 children experiencing sexual abuse. However, based on my extensive experience in one-to-one counselling sessions, I firmly believe that the number is closer to 1 in 2. There are many counsellors who agree with me. This alarming reality underscores the urgency of addressing this pervasive issue that shrouds our society in shame and silence.
One of the most challenging aspects of my work is helping survivors navigate the trauma of sexual abuse inflicted by family members. The shame and guilt they carry, especially when the abuser is a father or mother, are profound. Yet, it is precisely in these moments of vulnerability that a safe and supportive environment becomes paramount.
To those who have confided in me, I extend my deepest empathy and understanding. Healing is a journey, often marked by courage, resilience, and the breaking of silence. I commend each and every one of my clients as a trauma specialist, who has for many years now dealt with childhood sexual abuse, for taking those crucial steps toward reclaiming their well-being and trusting me with their secrets.
In my efforts to destigmatize this critical topic, it is essential to discuss the impact of childhood abuse on the subsequent behaviour of survivors. Children who have endured abuse may engage in "playing" sexually with siblings, cousins, or friends. It's crucial to differentiate this from "abuse", recognizing that a child/teenagers still-developing prefrontal cortex may influence impulsive and decision making behaviours.
As a sexual abuse trauma counsellor with much expertise and experience, I guide my clients through the process of understanding these early experiences, aiming to remove the layers of guilt and shame that often accompany them. It is important to acknowledge that survivors of childhood abuse can develop confusing feelings and behaviours as a result of their traumatic past. With each and every survivor, the results of my counselling and removing shame and guilt has been profound, enabling my clients to move forward, with a new version of themselves.
Furthermore, it is vital to distinguish between "survivors" and "perpetrators or paedophiles."
It is disheartening to witness the extent of the impact of childhood abuse on my clients, as some recount engaging in sexually suggestive "play" with family members or friends well into their late teens. They feel relief when I explain that this is perfectly normal and they are NOT "abusers".
Furthermore, the normalization of such behavior becomes particularly evident when considering those who, having experienced sexual abuse since toddlers, had no frame of reference to recognize its abnormality. For them, these experiences were ingrained in their neurology and psyche, creating a distorted sense of what constitutes a standard, healthy upbringing. Hence, sometimes the sexual play may continue even when over the age of 18, until suddenly their maturity develops and they question morality and/or hear about "sexual abuse".
Unraveling the complex web of trauma requires not only addressing the immediate effects but also dismantling the deeply rooted neural and mental patterns that have normalized their painful experiences for far too long.
On the other hand, unlike children and teenagers, perpetrators of sexual "abuse" and "paedophiles" persist in their harmful behaviours without regard for the well-being of those they harm, even as fully grown adults, and without any moral conscience. They act on "physical desire" despite knowing it is not moral to continue doing so, nor do they seek help to stop. This is the biggest difference between a child or teenager, and a fully grown adult who knows the difference between right and wrong.
If we are to heal the adult from the shame and guilt they bear, then we must be very cautious to NEVER label a adult who admits to "playing" sexual games with a family member or friend, as a child or teenager, as a "abuser" or paedophile.
Through counselling and support, I work towards dismantling the shame and guilt that survivors carry. My vast experience helping clients move forward from sexual abuse as a child, has shown, that by fostering open conversations and providing a safe space, survivors are empowered to reclaim their lives and break free from the chains of shame and guilt that binds them into silence.
To those who may have felt the weight of their emotions during our sessions, I want to assure you that vulnerability is not weakness. If tears were to flow, my arms would be ready to embrace you, providing a haven of safety and security. You are NOT TO BLAME!
Let us continue to challenge the stigma surrounding childhood abuse, fostering an environment where survivors can share their stories without fear or judgment. Together, we can be the catalysts for change, breaking the silence and building a community that supports the journey to healing and empowerment.
With heartfelt gratitude love and hugs, to all of the survivors of sexual abuse! I am here to hold your hand and help you process this in a safe, caring and supportive environment.
Jayne Green (B.Ed; M.Ed)
Master Degree Counsellor and Certified Psychoeducation Therapist Specialised in the area of Trauma, PTSD, Anxiety and Depression