Sexual abuse can have a profound impact on relationships. Survivors of sexual abuse may struggle with intimacy, trust, and vulnerability in their romantic relationships, as well as friendships. While this can feel devastating, the good news is that with effective therapy at Innova, we see people restoring their relationships and finding new levels of healing in all areas of life.
Impact of Sexual Abuse on Relationships:
- Trust issues: Survivors of sexual abuse may struggle with trust in their intimate relationships. They may have a hard time trusting their partners or may be hyper-vigilant for signs of abuse or betrayal.
- Intimacy issues: Survivors may struggle with intimacy, feeling disconnected from their bodies or experiencing flashbacks during sexual encounters.
- Communication issues: Survivors may struggle to communicate their needs or boundaries, fearing re-victimization or retaliation. This leads to avoidance which only furthers the isolation survivors often feel.
- Emotional issues: Survivors may experience a range of emotional challenges such as anxiety, depression, shame, and low self-esteem that can impact their relationships.
- Relationship challenges: Survivors may experience challenges in their relationships such as difficulty with commitment, jealousy, and controlling behaviors.
Resources for Support:
- Therapy: Therapy can provide a safe and supportive space for survivors to work through the impacts of sexual abuse on their relationships. Evidence-based therapies such as Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) have been shown to be effective in addressing the impacts of sexual abuse.
- Group Therapy: Groups can provide a sense of community and validation for survivors. At Innova Grace, we 8+ opportunities per day for group support and validation.
- Couples therapy: Couples therapy can provide a safe and supportive space for partners to work through the impacts of sexual abuse on their relationship. It can help both partners understand and communicate their needs and establish a healthy and supportive relationship. At Innova Grace, we encourage partners and spouses to participate in therapy with their partner on a weekly basis.
- Self-care: Engaging in self-care activities such as exercise, meditation, and spending time with loved ones can help survivors build resilience and cope with the impacts of sexual abuse.
- Education: Education can provide survivors with a better understanding of the impacts of sexual abuse and equip them with the tools to navigate their relationships.
Sexual abuse can have a profound impact on relationships, but it is possible to heal and build healthy and supportive relationships. Seeking support from a trained professional or support group can be an important step in healing from the impacts of sexual abuse. Engaging in self-care activities and educating yourself on the impacts of sexual abuse can also help survivors navigate their relationships. Hope is here. Let us support you on your journey to healing from sexual abuse and trauma.
- National Sexual Violence Resource Center. (n.d.). Survivor resources. Retrieved from https://www.nsvrc.org/survivor-resources/
- RAINN. (n.d.). Resources for survivors of sexual assault. Retrieved from https://www.rainn.org/resources
- Turchik, J. A., & Wilson, S. M. (2010). Sexual trauma and the impact on intimate relationships. Journal of Loss and Trauma, 15(5), 383-399.
- Walker, J. L. (2018). Treating the lasting effects of childhood sexual abuse. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 25(1), 27-35.
- Zerubavel, N., Messman-Moore, T. L., & DiLillo, D. (2013). Development and evaluation of the sexual abuse in intimate relationships scale. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 28(7), 1459-1477.
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