Benefits of therapy for survivors of child abuse
Strong emotions are often involved in cases of child abuse because of the damage caused to the survivors; their dignity has been violated, their trust has been betrayed, there has been a huge imbalance of power and they had no control over the situation.
The years following the abuse are riddled with feelings of self-blame, self-doubt, guilt, shame, resentment and unhappiness.
Survivors of abuse carry a debilitating burden throughout their lives, thinking they are in some way to blame for what happened. As a result, they often find it difficult to trust others and have a fear of intimacy, which can impact their ability to form and maintain interpersonal relationships. Furthermore, childhood abuse is likely to affect a survivor’s psychosexual development to the extent that they are unable to engage in a healthy sexual relationship with their partner.
Those with children may struggle with parenting and their relationship with their children, often being overprotective due to their distrust of others and fear that their children could be subjected to similar abuse.
Having worked with thousands of survivors of abuse over the years, we have seen first-hand that all this leads to complex emotional and psychological injuries including anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder as well as being a factor in substance misuse, self-harm and suicidal thoughts. These issues can have a significant impact on a survivor’s quality of life and day to day functioning and the unintended consequence of their partner becoming a secondary victim.
From our work with survivors, we know that above all they are driven by the need to heal. We also know that timely and specialist therapy can be the catalyst in addressing the impact of child abuse, not only for survivors but also for their partners and those closest to them.
Therapy can play a pivotal role in the healing process for survivors by acknowledging and validating their experience, reinforcing their moral worth and restoring their self-esteem. Whilst it cannot change the past, therapy can affect perceptions of the past and help survivors move forward and focus on a happier future. It is therefore vital that survivors begin this journey without delay, without the daunting process of being placed on endless NHS waiting lists, and without any financial burden.
It is in recognition of this that Bolt Burdon Kemp have launched a therapy funding project whereby we will fund up to £2,500 worth of private treatment recommended to each individual client by a Consultant Psychiatrist. This will enable those most vulnerable to access specialist treatment when they need it the most and we hope that it will benefit many survivors for years to come.
Leigh Graham, Counselling Manager at Survivors UK commented:
“SurvivorsUK is a specialist organisation, supporting men, boys and non-binary people who have suffered rape or sexual abuse.
On average men tend to take 26 years to talk about the sexual abuse or rape they experienced. There is a huge stigma in society that this does not happen to boys and men, it only happens to women.
Each year more than 84,000 men, boys and non-binary people are abused or sexually assaulted. Only 4% manage to tell somebody and even less reported their abuse to the police.
With limited services for survivors it can be even harder to speak out or trust in what has happened to be true. Having to wait for services to provide support can be devastating to clients, and on average clients will wait 18 months to 2 years for any support.
Having this funding will offer much needed emotional support to survivors while they are going through the justice system when so much of their trauma is being spoken about, questioned and queried. This could help clients stay grounded during the toughest time, be heard and believed in a empathic non-judgmental way at a time when so much is being questioned.”