Gudrun Zomerland, MFT, CCPS
and Family Therapist
405 Chinn Street
Santa Rosa, CA 95404
Printer friendly version
Sexual Abuse Guidelines
Gudrun Zomerland, MFT
10 Things to remember if you know or suspect that you were molested as a child:
- No matter what you did or how you responded, you did not bring it on
- You are not crazy; something crazy happened to you
- You can heal
- Because the injury happened in isolation you can't heal in isolation; get as much support as possible
- When you start talking about it you might initially feel worse
- Because your emotional development was derailed when the abuse occurred you may at times act or feel like the child you once were
- Treat that inner child with respect, love, and gentle yet firm boundaries
- Forgiving yourself will be part of your grieving process
- Forgiving the perpetrator may or may not be part of your journey
- It really is never too late to have a second childhood
What you might experience:
Being molested as a child evokes many uncomfortable and conflicting emotions that can be very confusing. Fear, shame, anger, and profound sadness or even stronger feelings such as terror and hatred can all be part of your experience.
Coupled with any love and dependence you might have felt if the perpetrator was a family member these feelings create internal conflict and mental confusion.
Whether the abuser was a family member, neighbor, or stranger, if you felt the need to keep the molest secret, you are carrying an emotional load that taxes your system to its limits. This may have detrimental effects on your overall health and your relationships.
How you survived:
Children are naturally self-centered and therefore think they are the cause of what happens to them. They also learn about the world by mimicking others. Both these developmental strategies have the result that children identify with the abuser and become abusive themselves. This abuse is either inflicted on the Self or on others. As an adult abused as a child check whether you either abuse yourself, others or both. Abusive behaviors focused on the Self might include one or more addictions, choosing abusive relationships, or intentional
infliction of pain. Behaviors that focus on others might include emotional,
verbal, physical, or sexual abuse. Whichever way it goes, abuse needs to stop.
Common Symptoms of Sexual Abuse:
Anxiety and panic attacks may be precursors of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). They are like your system's alarm bells that call you to wake up and pay attention to fear in your body, mind, and soul.
PTSD can include:
- Recurrent nightmares
- Current intrusive memories or flashbacks
- Dissociation a feeling of not being in the body
- Reacting to internal or external cues that are a reminder of the abuse
- Depression can include increased or decreased sleep and/or appetite, loss of energy, feeling worthless, or suicidal thoughts.
- Addictions: repeating behaviors even in the face of negative consequences.
Where to find Support:
Your public library: type incest or molest recovery under "subject" on computer.
Book and Workbook: "The Courage To Heal" by Ellen Bass & Laura Davis, and "The Courage to Heal Workbook" by Laura Davis, the most comprehensive workbook to date.
Self Help Groups: the Morris Group: 415-452-1949 (in San Francisco and Marin)
Low-fee Clinics: call your local County Mental Health clinic for a list.
In Sonoma County: 707-565-4970, and in Marin County: 415-499-6835.
Licensed Marriage Family Therapists, Psychologists or Social Workers: interview prospective therapists about their experience working with molest survivors.
Bodywork in conjunction with therapy: interview massage therapists or other types of bodyworkers about their experience working with molest survivors.
Family and Friends: if they are really willing to listen to you and give you room for your feelings.
back to Gudrun Zomerland
©2005-2015 Gudrun Zomerland, Chinn Street Counseling Center; all rights reserved.