Rape in Childhood is possible by intervening quickly, with trained and experienced professionals, and with the support of family and social resources.
Sexual abuse is an event that marks the lives of many people and can leave innumerable consequences in the individual who suffers. In addition, it is common for the effects of abuse to impact both the victim and his family and the relational framework that he builds around him.
Rape in Childhood
Considering the highly traumatic properties, it is of vital importance to intervene these cases as soon as possible, since otherwise a great number of personal and psychological problems can result.
Sexual abuse and the importance of intervention
The sexual abuse is extremely high emotional blow for the person who has it.
It causes damages in self-love, in the way of seeing life and, when they occur in childhood, can put into question the personal development of the individual.
Suffering a violation can alter the emotional development of the person and produce a wide range of alterations.
The most important is the major depression and the abandonment of the person to himself, however, many other psychological alterations can appear after a sexual abuse if this is not intervened properly.
Most of them are related to the avoidance of reality, since due to the high stress that the event originates the person may not be able to elaborate different aspects of his life.
Therefore, like any traumatic event, rape requires an internal elaboration process in order to overcome the trauma .
If it is not done, the alterations can become chronic and the psychological discomfort can be encased inside the person.
The most effective method to overcome these situations is to perform psychotherapy focused on the development of the traumatic event.
How can a violation be overcome?
Not all abused people react in the same way, so there is no single formula that allows the event to be adequately elaborated and to overcome the trauma .
However, usually there are a number of risk factors to emotional problems that are revealed after the experience of an abuse.
The most normal thing is that, after an event like this, messages like “you are worth nothing” “are an object that anyone can use” “you are so bad that life has punished you” or “you are not good for anything”.
The feelings of helplessness and lack of control can cause the person to lose all their attributes that defined their identity and see how their “I” collapses completely.
This fact is especially relevant in childhood abuse, since the emotional development of children is more immature and less evolved, so inserting rational thoughts that eliminate the connotations of trauma is very complicated.
For this reason, it is necessary and really important to reconstruct what the abuse destroyed through specific psychological therapies.
What is +based on in these cases?
Having a rape in childhood can cause a large number of symptoms and psychological disorders.
The person may suffer from major depression, a post-traumatic stress disorder and, over the years, eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia , and problems with drug use .
In the event that any of these psychopathologies are present, a specific psychological treatment will be required to intervene the mental alteration.
However, independently of the disorders that may cause sexual abuse, in these cases it is important to perform a therapy focused on the event.
Rape is the central axis of the person’s discomfort and the psychological changes that occur.
In this way, psychological therapy must focus on reconstructing all those personal aspects that have destroyed the event.
The violation may have compromised the identity of the person and give rise to personality traits marked by depression, low self-esteem and helplessness .
The therapist will identify the aspects that have been damaged after the rape and will work together with the patient to reconstruct them from scratch.
Repair therapy, an effective treatment for child rape
This psychological therapy focuses on the identification of different stages within the repair process. According to Dolan, there are three main phases that should guide the therapeutic process.
1- Recognize yourself as a victim
This first phase involves recording the situation of hierarchical inequality and abuse of power that was submitted in relation to the abuser. The patient must recognize himself as a victim without fears and accept that he had to live this situation.
2- Recognize yourself as a survivor
Subsequently, the victim must identify the personal resources that have allowed him to protect himself from the abuse and overcome his long-term effects.
The role of victim was experienced at the time of the violation, at present, the role developed is that of survivor.
3- Celebrate life
Finally, the possibility of imagining a future free of the influence of abuse as a determining factor in the structuring of one’s life must be recovered.
That is to say, the traumatic event does not disappear or disappear, but it must be kept inside the person as a situation of the past, not of the present or of the future.
These three stages represent the process that a person follows when they overcome sexual abuse.
In this way, the goal of psychotherapy is to get the patient to overcome each of these stages until reaching recovery.
In order to achieve this, a series of therapeutic implications must be taken into account.
- In the process it is essential that the person is recognized as a victim there and then overcome the guilt regarding the abuse. This constitutes a central aspect of the therapy that facilitates the recognition of the traumatic event and initiates the elaboration process.
- Likewise, it is important that the event of rape be evaluated within a violent relational context in which the individual had no chance to control or stop the abusive actions of the adult.
- It is important to recognize yourself as a victim in the past, when sexual abuse happens, but this fact should not mean that you are condemned to suffer its effects all your life. The abuse must be differentiated from its effects.
- The person should contact their own resources and areas of strengths, which will be the central point to guide recovery.
- The last therapeutic implication is to work for the person to recover the feeling of control over their own life and the possibility of developing it in a constructive and satisfactory way.
Specific therapeutic focuses
More specifically, therapeutic foci should be proposed that provide benefits to the victim and that help in the process of overcoming the traumatic event.
The main ones are:
Creation of a communication framework that allows the integration of abuse
The fact of not counting the abuse suffered fulfills a function of self-protection on the person because of the fear that this person presents of being rejected or blamed.
In this way, the therapist creates the person and maintains an attitude of total acceptance towards it, and in itself produces therapeutic effects. In addition, it will allow establishing a relationship of trust to continue working towards overcoming the violation.
Semantize the experience
Often, people who have been victims of abuse have a memory based on diffuse sensations that create a lot of confusion about what happened.
Psychotherapy will therefore focus on getting words to all the memories that are possessed about the event.
This fact helps the person to describe in a more precise way what is being reported, to give character of reality to the facts lived and to favor the validation of the perceptions and experiences associated with the violation.
To elaborate a trauma you must talk about it, and the easier and more understanding the story of what happened, the easier the victim will have to understand what happened to him, accept it and overcome it.
Contain and elaborate the feelings associated with the abuse.
The abuse is usually associated with painful and intense feelings of anguish, shame, guilt, fear, distrust, sadness or anger.
These feelings are the main factors that maintain the discomfort produced by the violation and prevent the elaboration of the trauma.
The task of the therapist is to offer a container space that allows to recognize and validate the emotions and to facilitate a regulated expression of these.
The person is helped to legitimize their experiences to be able to elaborate the event and alleviate the discomfort that it produces.
Symptoms associated with rape
Due to the disturbance caused by the rape, the person may experience a series of psychological symptoms.
This symptomatology should be analyzed with special delicacy and, in the case that its severity is very high, may require a more specific psychological intervention. The main symptoms are:
- Feelings of confusion and feel that the body image has changed.
- Feelings of fear, anger, sadness, discouragement.
- Feelings of guilt .
- Experience feelings of sadness, impotence and frequent crying.
- Absence of appetite
- Problems to reconcile and maintain sleep, as well as experimentation of nightmares.
- Do not be so comfortable with your friends, your partner or your family.
- Reexperience aggression through nightmares, hallucinations or flashbacks, and constantly think about what happened.
- To have the feeling of what has happened is unreal.
- Be constantly alert, startled by anything, feel impatient and irritable.
- Difficulty concentrating .
- Symptoms physiological activation such as tremors, muscle tension, sweating, tachycardia or feelings of drowning.
- Avoidance of places or situations that are reminiscent of aggression or abuse.
- Loss of energy, apathy , feelings of disability.
- Alteration of sexual activity. Not having any type of sexual desire or a great increase in desire and behaviors of hypersexuality .
What can the victim do alone?
The most effective and safe way to overcome an abuse in childhood is to go to a psychologist, since psychotherapy allows to analyze and establish the elements of recovery in the most beneficial way possible.
However, this does not mean that a rape can not be overcome without the help of an expert in psychology or that even when going to psychotherapy the victim can not perform activities on his own that also help him overcome the traumatic event.
So, then we will discuss the basic aspects that can be developed by a victim of sexual abuse alone and that can be very useful to gradually develop their trauma and overcome the negative effects of the violation suffered.
Avoid isolation at all times
It is important to give yourself the opportunity to talk about what happened with people you trust.
As we have seen, the greatest danger posed by an event of sexual abuse is that it is “embedded” inside the person and manifests through psychopathological symptoms. It is very important to be able to talk about it in a climate of tranquility and confidence.
Do not avoid situations that remember what happened
It is very usual that due to the fear that the event of rape produces, the person begins to avoid any stimulus that can remind him of the traumatic event.
However, this can be harmful to the victim since it can lead to the development of a post-traumatic stress disorder .
For this reason, although it should not be forced, it is convenient that the victim tries not to avoid situations that remind him of what happened and can be exposed to them.
Sexual abuse often produces a high alteration in the person’s life, so at this time it is important to let help.
Family and friends should become an essential support, but it is also important to contact the victims association near your city.
These associations will provide guidance, advice, support and treatment for both psychological issues and possible legal issues that have to be processed.