Recovery from sexual abuse has been described as, “Climbing a mountain. Backward. On your knees. In the snow. Wearing a blindfold.” Having completed the majority of my own healing, I agree with that description.
Travel on the healing path is painful, sometimes slow, often frightening, and usually difficult. But the reward–becoming one’s true self, and feeling genuine happiness–is well worth the effort.
The only thing harder than doing your healing work is not doing your work.
Healing will change your life in unimaginable ways. It will bring you peace. -Shay
Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) is the most devastating form of abuse. Even if a perpetrator believes s/he is doing it out of “love,” and is being “gentle,” the act damages a child’s soul.
If you have ever been coerced, manipulated, pressured, tricked, or surprised into sexual contact with someone–especially if that person was more than 5 years your senior–then you, too, are a victim of sexual abuse. You may have tried to simply “forget” it, but it still seeps out into every aspect of your life. It will affect you and your loved ones–especially children–until you deal with it. There is a lot of wonderful help waiting for people who were victimized in that awful way.
Fortunately, as more survivors speak out, the blame and shame are being returned to their owner: the perpetrators. If you survived sexual abuse, or are the loved one of a survivor, you can find compassionate support. Below are some books that I found valuable, followed by links to helpful web sites. These are valuable resources, yet they do not take the place of professional help. Private and group therapy are crucial to recovery.
If you know someone who has been sexually abused, listen to them, and help them find the support they need to recover.
“It is very tempting to take the side of the perpetrator. All the perpetrator asks is that the bystander do nothing. He appeals to the universal desire to see, hear, and speak no evil. The victim, on the contrary, asks the bystander to share the burden of pain. The victim demands action, engagement, and remembering.” -Judith Herman
- “The Courage to Heal” by Ellen Bass & Laura Davis. This is one of the best!
- “Trauma and Recovery” by Judith Herman
- “Beginning to Heal: A First Book for Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse” by Bass & Davis–Especially good for new readers, teens, those new to English, and anyone needing a shorter, less intensive beginning.
- “Secret Survivors: Uncovering Incest and Its Afteraffects in Women” by E. Sue Blume
- “Ghosts in the Bedroom: a Guide for Partners of Inc*st Survivors” by Ken Graber
- “The Dance of Anger: A Woman’s Guide to Changing the Patterns of Intimate Relationships” by Harriet Lerner
- “The Body Keeps the Score,” by Dr. Bessel van der Kolk
- The Healing Woman – A non-profit organization for female survivors of childhood sexual abuse
- Warning List – Identifies a series of behaviors typically demonstrated by batterers and abusive people.
- Signs of Child Sexual Abuse – Describes the incidence of CSA, symptoms an abused child may exhibit, what to watch out for in adult behavior, and how to prevent child sexual abuse.
- Defining a Rape Culture – Makes excellent points for changing our culture. Real eye-opener!
- Abuse: Child and Neglect & Sexual Abuse/Assault/Harassment. Lots of resources.
- Men, Rape and Sexual Abuse – For male survivors.
- Ritual Abuse Newsletter
- SNAP – Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
- Self Protection Tips from Metro Nashville Police Department
- the wounded healer – Primarily intended for those working in the healing professions but excellent for anyone who has had trauma in their life. INCREDIBLE set of links! Great documents too!
- National Hotline:
Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN)
- RAD Systems Self-Defense Course for Women: program of realistic self-defense tactics and techniques for women. The R.A.D. System is a comprehensive, women-only course that begins with awareness, prevention, risk reduction and risk avoidance, while progressing on to the basics of hands-on defense training. This course can be instrumental in recovering a sense of safety, power, and the ability to protect oneself.