If you suspect or know that you've been sexually abused, you'll find information here to help you along the path to healing.* Important steps include accepting and believing that you are NOT to blame--it was not your fault; discovering and understanding how the abuse affects you now; making a commitment to healing; and learning to see yourself as a survivor rather than a victim. You can heal, and you can feel better.
Throughout these pages, the term sexual abuse will refer to any inappropriate contact (not just sexual activity) between adults or older children and younger children. Inappropriate contact implies that there is a coercive or manipulative aspect to what happens--a power imbalance between abuser and abused. Even if an adult "only" accepts a sexual offer from a child, the adult has manipulated the child by not clearly refusing. Sexual abuse, therefore, also includes touching, being molested, growing up in an intensely sexualized atmosphere, being compelled to witness adult sexual activity, pornography, or adults who expose themselves to children. The abuse may have happened only once, or it may have been a repeated occurrence. No one can tell you that one experience was worse than another--there are too many variables that influence how one responds to a life event.
*"Healing,...is an inner process in which a person becomes whole. Healing can take place at the physical level, as when a wound or broken bone heals. It can take place at an emotional level, as when we recover from terrible childhood traumas or from a death or a divorce. It can take place at a mental level, as when we learn to reframe or restructure destructive ideas about ourselves and the world that we carried in the past. And it can take place at what some would call a spiritual level, as when we move toward God, toward a deeper connection with nature, or toward inner peace and a sense of connectedness." Michael Lerner, Choices in Healing (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1994), p.13-14.
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Jonathan P. Levine, CSW 2300 West Ridge Rd. Rochester, NY 14626 (585) 225-0330 firstname.lastname@example.org
© 2002, Jonathan P. Levine, CSW