Archive for August 11, 2013

Are Child Sexual Abuse Survivors Lesser Human Beings?

There are many reasons for not telling you were sexually abused as a child. Some of them make rational sense. Some don’t.

Recently I had a very moving message from a woman who is a therapist and whose own life is burdened by memories of child sexual abuse. She belongs to a professional community where many of the members secretly believe people who have been sexually abused cannot be healthy and whole. These members don’t admit to viewing victims as lesser humans, but it shows in their attitudes. Naturally, she feared disclosing her own story … even to herself. How, she asked herself, could she be a therapist if she herself was experiencing flashbacks between sessions?

Reading my book, Confessions of a Trauma Therapist: A Memoir of Healing and Transformation set her free from her fear of being discredited as a mental health professional because of her background. If I could tell my story without being silenced by shame, then maybe it was all right for her to respect her own experience.

In reading my book, she found the courage to tell her story … at least to herself. She says, “I had worried that in my telling, I would lose my career. And in my telling I would lose my family. And in my telling, I would go crazy or not be believed.”

She is now free to tell herself and to embrace her child part that suffered the abuse. Whether she tells others is a different matter. When she feels ready to disclose, when she’s comfortable with her own story, she’ll need to choose people who are likely to respond in a positive way.

Perhaps she’ll also come to a place where she considers those who were sexually abused as especially strong and resourceful. After all, they survived the abuse.