In the past, our understanding of sexual abuse was limited to horror stories of incest victims who experienced physical, hands-on-sexual abuse. Now we understand that abuse can take many subtle forms. Today, we are aware that 1 in 4 adult women, and 1 in 6 adult men, in the U.S. has been identified as a victim of abuse. The damage of sexual abuse is extremely destructive and life-changing.
PHYSICAL SEXUAL ABUSE
This includes any touching in a sexual way. The range of abusive behaviors that are sexual include sexualized hugging and kissing, any kind of sexual touching or fondling, oral and anal sex, masturbation of the victim, or forcing the victim to masturbate the offender, sexual intercourse, and rape.
OVERT SEXUAL ABUSE
This can happen both inside and outside the home. It includes voyeurism or exhibitionism. The criteria for in-home voyeurism or exhibitionism is that the parent or guardian is being sexually stimulated.
COVERT SEXUAL ABUSE
This involves inappropriate sexual talk. Dad or any significant male may call women objectified sexual names. Mom or any significant female may belittle men in a sexual way. It also happens when parents or caretakers must know every detail of someoneʼs private sexual life, asking questions about a childʼs sexual physiology. Covert sexual abuse includes not receiving
adequate sexual information.
It includes children witnessing parents in intimate sexual behavior. They may walk in on it because their parents donʼt provide closed or locked doors. It also involves taking away privacy from a child. Children are not allowed to lock their bathroom or bedroom doors, so others may walk in them during private moments.
EMOTIONAL SEXUAL ABUSE
Emotional sexual abuse results from cross-generational bonding. It is very common for one or both parents in a dysfunctional marriage to bond inappropriately with one of their children. The parents, in effect, use the child to meet their emotional needs. The relationship can easily become sexualized and romanticized. Pia Mellody says, “When one parent has a relationship with the child that is more important than the relationship they have with their spouse, there is emotional sexual abuse.”¹ ¹Healing the Shame That Binds You by John Bradshaw.
S.H.O.U.T. is an acronym for Sharing Hearts Openly, Understanding Truth. In S.H.O.U.T. groups we learn that being open about our past is part of the healing. Telling ourselves the truth about the sexual abuse in a safe setting is an essential step. Study materials are used in S.H.O.U.T. groups. As we read, we begin to learn the truth about our past. As we process what we are learning in the group setting, we discover that we are not alone. Others have taken this same journey and they understand our struggles. As we reach out to God, He offers healing and empowerment that goes beyond what we could accomplish without His help.
The Truth About Abuse
BEGIN THE JOURNEY
If you have been a victim of sexual abuse, you may carry hidden scars that need to be healed. We encourage you to take these steps.
ACCEPT THE TRUTH
If you have been abused, your life has been affected.
REALIZE THE DANGER
There is a risk of repeating the abuse or being abused again.
Deal with the past for your sake and for the benefit of those you love.
Learn more about the program we offer. We are here to help by providing a Christ-centered recovery program for women who long for healing from past sexual trauma.
We believe that this safe, supportive environment will free you to begin your journey toward understanding and healing from past abuse.
Sexual abuse and trauma often produce serious effects that can last a lifetime. The following lists summarize these damaging effects. They clearly demonstrate the extent to which every aspect of a survivorʼs life has been altered by the abuse. You may have experienced a few of these after-effects, or you may have been living with many of them for years.
Withdrawing or flinching from touch
Not being “present” in your body
High pain tolerance
Denial of body needs
Overvaluing or devaluing others
Fear of commitment
Caretaking of others
Tolerance of abuse