Climbing the Mountain of Sexual Abuse Recovery

This blog is about climbing the mountain of recovery from sexual abuse. It’s about the struggle, the hopelessness, the hurt, the obstacles, and the joy that comes with undertaking such a transformative journey.

I remember one of my teachers saying:

“Therapy is like climbing a mountain. You have a guide/therapist who knows the territory and a climber/client who puts her/his faith into the guide’s hands. Therapist and client are connected with a strong rope while they are covering the same territory. The therapist never more than a few steps ahead of the client”.

What is written here is about such a climb. Its as much about my own recovery from sexual abuse as it is about your recovery. Let me guide you through the territory that I have traversed many times over the last 20 years both as a survivor and a therapist. Some of the places may be familiar to you while other places may be new, scary, or exciting.  

The views I am showing you here are through the looking glass of a survivor who has found recovery through therapy. I have tried many other means and shortcuts – even trained in some of them – only to find that they are at best band-aids. When I asked survivors “what was the most important in your recovery”? ALL of them said something like: “my therapist understanding, my therapist being there for me, being listened to, being respected, being believed”. The healing aspect always was the relationship between them and their therapist.

Therapy became the safe haven where they felt safe enough to talk about their past experiences of sexual abuse. Here they shared their hurt feelings from not being loved and cared for in the way they needed, about being betrayed and losing trust in people, and about feeling responsible for the abuse. They talked about feeling out of control and not trusting themselves, about their shame and guilt, about their hopelessness, and about their sense of powerlessness and victimisation.

How well they coped depended to a large extent on their relationships. A breakdown of an important relationships was often the catalyst that brought people into therapy. Relationship conflicts and the sense of injustice, disrespect, and victimisation survivors experience in many different situations often remained as the dominant theme during therapy. Relationship conflicts always evoke feelings of immense distress and easily trigger memories of abuse experiences from the past. Repeatedly survivors asked me “Do I have a sign on my forehead that says ‘kick me’, or why do I always meet people who treat me badly?”

This blog is all about how survivors are climbing and what they have found helpful on their journey to recovery.

1 Comment

  1. I’m a writer working on my second book about childhood sexual abuse. I read your intro at a Linkedin group discussion page. I’m conducting a survey as part of my research for the book I’m working on. I hope your readers will consider responding to this survey:
    Thank you!

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