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A victim of sexual abuse faces a range of challenges even after the traumatic experience is over. Attempting to cope with the vast array of psychological problems that sexual abuse ensues and at the same time trying to sustain communication with family members, address professional issues, etc., implies dealing with an unmanageable amount of strain and pressure. Furthermore, the attempt at stifling the traumatic experience will inevitably affect a victim negatively, with repressed emotions being released involuntarily at some point (Ullman & Relyea, 2016). Therefore, addressing life after sexual abuse is crucial. Particularly, it is important for a victim to develop a coping mechanism that will eventually contribute to healing. For this reason, comprehensive intervention for the victims of sexual abuse must be provided. Because of the necessity to manage the problem of stigma and the following fear of communication, a strategy allowing to develop a coping mechanism and shape patients’ behavior to make the process as less stressful as possible is required.
Behaviors Contributing to and Resulting from the Problem
The attempt to conform to the standards and behaviors that the society expects from sexual abuse survivors is typically ranked among the top reasons for psychological health issues to develop in the target population (Boroughs et al., 2015). According to recent studies, the fear of being ostracized or being the subject of societal contempt serves as the primary factor leading to the development of psychological issues in sexual abuse victims (Boroughs et al., 2015). As a result, the specified demographic tends to experience significant stress and focuses on self-blaming (Ullman & Relyea, 2016). Consequently, people that have suffered abuse develop the fear of communicating with the rest of community members and refrain from interactions (Ullman & Relyea, 2016). The specified behavior aggravates the problem since it reinforces social isolation and leads to even greater trauma.
To approach the problem of trauma management among the victims of sexual abuse, one will have to focus on theoretical frameworks such as the Attachment Theory (Cantón-Cortés, Cortés, & Cantón, 2015). The latter implies the analysis of the problem from the perspective of a sexual abuse survivor who has experienced the lack of attachment in infancy and, therefore, is incapable of handling the issue of their sexual abuse and psychological trauma by creating stronger bonds with family and community members.
In addition, the Family Systems Theory can be applied to handle the instances of sexual abuse that occurred in a family (Karakurt & Silver, 2014). The framework mentioned above will help handle the issues associated with incest and similar cases of sexual abuse within a family (Karakurt & Silver, 2014). The suggested theory will serve as a pathway to understanding the needs of sexual abuse victims, as well as the ways in which they can regain confidence and even go as far as being willing to create their own families.
The proposed theoretical frameworks are expected to assist in encouraging consistent support from the people that have suffered sexual abuse. Particularly, the theories provided above are expected to help target patients build resilience toward negative factors, including triggers. As a result, a rise in the recovery pace can be expected.
The management of the problems experienced by the victims of abuse will have to begin with preventing the development of self-blame tendencies. Particularly, it is important to engage community members in the process of assisting patients to regain their self-esteem and become active members of the community. The specified task can be accomplished by using social media as a tool for building awareness among community members and inviting patients to communicate (Ullman & Relyea, 2016). As a result, a steep rise in the efficacy of treatment and the number of positive patient outcomes can be expected within a comparatively short amount of time.
In addition, the intervention will have to embrace the problem of social isolation. Because of the issues associated with prejudice, victim-blaming, and other instances of societal injustice, that have experienced sexual abuse often fear being judged, reproached, and ultimately isolated. Therefore, it will be crucial to prevent instances of social isolation among the victims of sexual abuse. The strategies that can assist in the implementation of the specified objective include the active support of close friends and family members (Sigurvinsdottir & Ullman, 2015). Therefore, it will be crucial to encourage the process of communication with the specified people that play an important role in the recovery of victims of sexual abuse.
Another important intervention step that allows handling the problem of managing the health status of victims of sexual abuse suggests managing the problem of developing trigger reactions toward certain factors such as words, elements of the environment, etc. Unlike behaviors that can be acquired and shaped by a patient deliberately, the specified aspects of a victim’s response to abuse manifest themselves at a subconscious level and, thus, are unlikely to be managed by a patient without a long and thorough intervention.
Finally, the issue of substance abuse as a method of escapism and the tool for reducing the levels of stress that abuse victims experience needs to be addressed. According to the existing studies, there is a strong possibility that a person who has been subjected to sexual abuse my acquire the propensity toward substance abuse, particularly, drinking (Domhardt, Munzer, Fegert, & Goldbeck, 2015). Therefore, the design of a strategy aimed at handling the specified issue needs to be considered.
Questions, Directions, and Thoughts
Because of the need to reduce the stress experienced by the victims of sexual abuse after they resume communicating with their community, one must incorporate intervention approaches that are supposed to help patients stop blaming themselves for what happened to them, as well as fear social ostracism. However, since social prejudices remain persistent in the modern community despite the rise in the accessibility of the latest information about the subject matter, patients are still very likely to be exposed to significant stress. Thus, strategies aimed at assisting patients in developing coping mechanisms are strongly recommended.
Among the questions that need to be answered, the one regarding the location of triggers needs to be answered. Even in the case of successful therapy, the emergence of a trigger may cause a patient to suffer a relapse. Therefore, the question concerning the efficient identification of triggers and the subsequent development of a management strategy remains open.
Finally, the problem regarding self-blaming should be seen as one of the signs that the present-day society promotes a range of harmful prejudices. Thus, tools for refuting these prejudices have to be developed. Designing a social media campaign aimed at building awareness of the problem and addressing it respectively must be seen as a necessity.
Initially, it was assumed that the problem needs to be viewed from the perspective of change in the victims’ behavior. However, at present, it is clear that addressing the issue of social prejudices toward sexual abuse victims is crucial as well. Particularly, it is essential to debunk the myths that lead to self-blaming and fear of social contempt. Thus, carrying out an intervention that will provide them with an opportunity to regain confidence is crucial.
Boroughs, M. S., Valentine, S. E., Ironson, G. H., Shipherd, J. C., Safren, S. A., Taylor, S. W.,… O’Cleirigh, C. (2015). Complexity of childhood sexual abuse: Predictors of current post-traumatic stress disorder, mood disorders, substance use, and sexual risk behavior among adult men who have sex with men. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 44(7), 1891-1902.
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Cantón-Cortés, D., Cortés, M. R., & Cantón, J. (2015). Child sexual abuse, attachment style, and depression: The role of the characteristics of abuse. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 30(3), 420-436.
Domhardt, M., Munzer, A., Fegert, J. M., & Goldbeck, L. (2015). Resilience in survivors of child sexual abuse: A systematic review of the literature. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 16(4), 476-493.
Karakurt, G., & Silver, K. E. (2014). Therapy for childhood sexual abuse survivors using attachment and family systems theory orientations. The American Journal of Family Therapy, 42(1), 79-91.
Sigurvinsdottir, R., & Ullman, S. E. (2015). Social reactions, self-blame, and problem drinking in adult sexual assault survivors. Psychology of Violence, 5(2), 192.
Ullman, S. E., & Relyea, M. (2016). Social support, coping, and posttraumatic stress symptoms in female sexual assault survivors: A longitudinal analysis. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 29(6), 500-506.