I specialize in treating men and women who have experienced sexual assault as children, as well as those who have experienced sexual assault adults. Additionally, I have worked in connection with law enforcement agencies to interview, evaluate, and treat the perpetrators of sexual assault. My experiences working with offenders have granted me a more complete picture of the psychological and emotional footprint that they leave on their victims. This knowledge had proven invaluable in my treatment of survivors.
Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse
Children experience harmful psychological and emotional distress as the result of sexual abuse just like adults do. However, children experience these traumatic effects at a crucial developmental period in their lives when:
- Attitudes and beliefs about the self, others, and the world are developing.
- Emotional states and the way in which emotions are regulated are being formed
- Relationship and social skills are being developed.
Children who are sexually abused are forced to make creative emotional and behavioral adaptations in order to cope with the trauma of abuse. If they do not receive counseling or some sort of support, these adaptations tend to carry forward and generalize into the adult survivor’s life in complicated ways. In some cases, survivors may go for decades before seeking help.
Survivors of Sexual Assault as an Adult
Whereas childhood sexual assault typically involves manipulation, sexual assault experienced as an adult tends more often to involve overt violence (there are of course exceptions to this in both cases, a child may be raped and adult may be drugged, for example). Rape can shatter a person’s previously held ideas and assumptions about the world, others, themselves, and safety. Depression, extreme anxiety, phobias and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder are all common results.
While there is no “typical” response to rape, there are certain experiences that are common to many survivors. These include: Fear, Guilt, Betrayal, Helplessness, Shame, Sadness, and Anger. These emotions may lessen, increase, interact, and change over time and it can be difficult and overwhelming to make sense of these reactions on your own.
If you think you have been recently sexually assaulted you should call the San Francisco Rape Crisis Line at 415-647-7273 (24 hours a day). You can also call 911.