Helping your teen survivor stop blaming herself, self sabatgoing, and find self love and connection
How Therapy Can Help Your Teen Sexual Abuse/Assault Survivor
The world of a pre-teen is tough for most girls, if not all. The combination of hormones, discovering who they are and what they want to be, pressure from school and peers, is an endless cycle of ups and downs. For these young girls who are victims of sexual abuse, incest, or molestation they face the task of trying to find ways to cope with their sexual violations, while also coping with typical teen challenges. They may not have the words to talk about. Their sleep is restless or non existent as they are plagued with nightmares and thought intrusions that remind them of their trauma. Whether this trauma began when they were children or it's something that happened more recently, your daughter is struggling to come to terms with it all. Blame and shame, especially if they know the perpetrator, may make your daughter want to shrink away and hide. You want to help her but she only pushes you away. As her mother you want to help her but your at a loss as to how. Getting help in the form of therapy will help her learn the skills necessary to cope with her assault, express herself, find peace and joy.
Time To Help Your Daughter on Her Path To Healing
"My daughter doesn't want to talk to me about what happened. She is angry at me and she blames me for it all. This hurts especially because she doesn't seem to blame him"
This statement above is very common from mothers who are seeking treatment for their daughters. It's true your daughter probably does blame you. She believes that you knew what was happening and you let it continue. This is most likely not the case and on some level she understands this.
The truth is she is hurting and she feels betrayed. She is not only angry at you but believe it or not she is angry at the perpetrator. She is also angry at herself, feeling like she should have done more to make it stop. Part of healing will be for her to come to terms with all of her feelings and process them.
Furthermore for children and pre-teens who are sexually abused the perpetrator often made them feel special. They conflated the normal love, affection, attention, support and guidance that children rely on adults to give them freely by attaching it to sex. The result is that your daughter now has trouble with understanding how to be connected and feel love without the sexually component. She feels threatened by other's attempts to get close to her because in the past this has been tied to sexual violation. She needs a lot of help and patience with navigating how to experience love, nurturance, and affection without being exploited.
How Trauma Presents Itself in Pre-teens
- Loss of appetite or over eating
- Depression (sadness, worthlessness, and/or irritabiity)
- Low Self-Esteem/Self-Worth/Self-Value
- Suicidal thoughts and/or acts
- Sleep Challenges (such as: insomnia, restless/interrupted sleep, and nightmares/night terrors, difficulty (fear of) falling asleep)
Therapy/Counseling will help your daughter find her voice and establish boundaries for herself.
As your daughter moves along on her journey to healing she will share her story and process feelings around the pats that everyone played in it. She will learn to trust herself and feel more connected to her body. Your daughter will discover what she likes, what she needs and what she wants and learn how to achieve these things in a more healthy and safe way. Through the process of healing your daughter will find better ways to cope with feelings of stress and feelings of discomfort without hurting herself or someone else.
There is hope for your daughter to love and accept all parts of herself. She will began a new chapter in her life, feeling connection and empowered.
So here’s some of the things we will do together to get your child on the right path.
#1 During the intake session. I will gather a ton of information about your pre-teen and your family. If possible I will communicate with the school, as teachers often see a different side of your pre-teen. I will then meet with your pre-teen and begin to get to know them.
#2 We move at her pace. Therapy is about building our relationship. This means building trust, which is earned slowly. For youth who have been sexually abused they often feel shame and blame that it's their fault. They also worry about getting the adults in their lives in trouble, so it's important that what we discuss stays private. The exceptions are in case of current abuse or neglect. Furthermore, I will work with you, as the parent, on how to best support your child through healing which includes frequent communication between the two of us, bringing you into sessions at times, and encouraging you and your pre-teen to communicate with each other.
#3 We will feel together. The biggest part of healing will be to connect the parts of herself that she is disconnected from, because of the abuse. The disconnection helped her in the past because it allowed her to function and survive the trauma, but now that she's out of the environment, the disconnection is keeping her from fully experiencing love and joy.
#4 We will do more than talk. I know when you think about working online you picture only sitting on your computer or tablet and talking. You're probably unsure of how this can even help your pre-teen. We will do more than talk but we will also play, do art, use music, and do yoga stretches. Trauma is stored in the body and by moving we will discharge the pent up energy stored up in your pre-teen's body. By using play your pre-teen communicates what is going on in her world as well as her thoughts and feelings. When we play together, whether using games online or art, it's a chance for her to share her story and find a sense of resolution around her trauma.
I hope what I listed gives you a little glimmer into what I will do with your pre-teen in session. I am looking forward to connecting with you and your pre-teen and helping her on her path to healing.
Time To Help Your Daughter on Her Path To Healing
Expert tips from trauma therapist that will help a sexual abuse survivor live a better and happier life