Seeking Help for Sexual Abuse Victims: It’s a New World

Last Tuesday I was talking to The Ontario Network of Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Treatment Centers across the province. I was sitting in a room in the Hospital for Sick Children with one other person and a couple of TV screens. The people watching were in their various settings picking up my talk about the effect of child sexual abuse across one’s lifespan on Telehealth (video conferencing).

To illustrate I used my book, Confessions of a Trauma Therapist, and discussed my own life as told in my memoir. Corry Azzopardi, a social worker who has been with the SCAN team (Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect) for nine years, was the moderator sitting beside me in that room with the two screens.

Why was this so amazing for me? When I began to recognize and treat the wounds of child sexual abuse in my adult clients, almost no one believed this crime against children existed in our society.

My husband, psychiatrist Dr. Harvey Armstrong, had been a pioneer in believing and helping children at The Hincks Treatment Centre when he was a resident in training there. He had an unusually wise supervisor, Dr. Gus Hood, who also believed – despite the fact that the psychiatric text of the day taught that child sexual abuse happened only once in a million families and that probably the psychiatrist would never meet it.

That was in the 1970s. During my years of maturing in our society, nobody had ever heard of such a thing. There was absolutely nowhere I could have gone for help as a child. All I could do in order to survive was forget.

Thank goodness today’s well-trained dedicated professionals not only believe their clients, but know how to help them heal and transform their lives.

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