Dealing with Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is defined as any situation in which someone is forced to participate in unwanted, unsafe or degrading sexual activity, even when it’s with a partner the person is also having consensual sex with. Both men and women can be perpetrators and victims of sexual abuse. 

As children we are most vulnerable to being sexually abused. Most children who’ve been sexually abused were abused by someone they know, a family member, a friend or someone trusted who has targeted them such as a teacher or a football coach. Many feel unable to tell someone what’s happened or, don’t understand that what is happening to them is abuse.

The impact of sexual abuse is high and enduring:

  • It is common for victims to experience guilt and/or shame, as they shoulder the responsibility for what happened to them. You might feel guilty about not having been able to stop the abuse, or even blame yourself if you experienced physical pleasure. It is important for you to understand that it was the person that hurt you that should be held accountable – not you.
  • It’s possible that your first experiences with sex came as a result of sexual abuse. As an adult, intimacy might be a struggle at times. Some survivors experience flashbacks or painful memories while engaging in sexual activity, even though it is consensual and on their own terms. Survivors may also struggle to set boundaries that help them feel safe in relationships.
  • You may struggle with low self-esteem, which can be a result of the negative messages you received from your abuser(s), and from having your personal safety violated or ignored. Low self-esteem can affect many different areas of your life such as your relationships, your career, and even your health.
Person dealing with depression

How can counselling and psychotherapy help?

Counselling can help by providing a safe place and, support you to explore and share feelings associated with your traumatic experiences. The number of sessions needed vary according to your individual issues, needs and wants.  

Linda Lawler, West Leicester Therapist

My name is Linda Lawler and I am a UKCP accredited integrative counsellor and psychotherapist working in Leicester.  I work with a broad range of clients aged 18 and above from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and occupations facing a wide variety of issues. Based in Leicester my practice is easy to get to. It’s on a main bus route from the City Centre and there is plenty of free street parking.