Childhood Sexual Abuse Adult Survivor| Sexual Abuse Counseling in Orlando
I want to introduce you to a brave and beautiful client of mine. She has been through a tremendous healing and wants to share her heart with you in the hopes that she can clear a path for other adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse to receive help. Here’s her story:
I have something to tell you. I’m 32 and I’m an adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse.
What I lost in the fire
I’m from a Christian family, the youngest of four children of educated parents. When I was six years old my Dad invited a “troubled teen” to come on vacation with us because it is “his ministry.” Don’t misunderstand me – my father is a good, intelligent man with good intentions. He felt that it was a good, honorable thing to bring troubled teens into our family circle to provide them with nurturing and stability. The unthinkable, unforgivable happened and the teen sexually molested me.
I told my Mom. My Mom told my Dad and he yelled the most soul destroying thing I’ve ever heard: “Why are you trying to ruin my ministry?” Not “How could he do that to my child?” Mom swept the incident under the rug.
The teen continued to spend time with my family.
Emotional Arrested Development
The message my young heart heard was pretty clear: I wasn’t worth protecting, a troubled teen was more important to my Dad than his own daughter. The deeper message? I wasn’t worth defending; it didn’t matter if awful things happened to me. I deserved them. I was too young to understand what happened. I needed caring adults to help me process the abuse in a healthy way. Instead, I felt like Dad blamed me for it. Mom swept it under the rug because talking about it upset Dad.
I stalled emotionally as a child and I continued to process emotions in an immature way. This began a life-long pattern of unhealthy behavior in relationships towards men. I found myself in promiscuous relationships with controlling men, afraid to stand-up for myself and afraid of rejection.
I internalized “bad” emotions (anger, rejection, sadness) then feel GUILT about having them. Oh, the guilt! My constant companion! Not healthy guilt – when you know you’ve done something wrong and need to make it right. No, unhealthy guilt! Doesn’t matter what, and it doesn’t make any sense. I developed depression in my teens and generalized anxiety disorder in my 20s.
God, in His wisdom and care for me, brought me to a place of complete brokenness in 2011. I was hospitalized for severe anxiety and major depression. He reached His hand down and delivered me from the pit.
God provided the tools I needed for healing: Christian counseling, a solid support system, and recovery tools like journaling and art. Through counseling I learning that “bad” emotions are totally valid! Whatever emotions I happen to have, I don’t have to explain them away. It’s a LOT healthier to express them and deal with them in a healthy way! My counselor helped me sift through the layers of pain and hurt from sexual abuse as well as the long-term consequences from it.
God has used prayer ministry to free me from anger and to grieve my lost innocence. I met the director of a Christian prayer ministry: Trading Pain for Peace. and I learned about the deep power of forgiveness.
Beauty for ashes
Hindsight is 20/20. The “troubled teen” in question eventually went to jail for molestation of his girlfriend’s daughter 20 years later. It makes me sick to think that other children got hurt when something could’ve been done after what happened to me. I forgave him. When I think of him I pray that he will come to know the Lord.
I have forgiven my Dad for the crass, selfish way he handled the news of my abuse and I have forgiven my Mom’s negligence. With the help of my counselor I set healthy boundaries with my Dad. I keep topics of conversation with him limited to current events, weather and other bland topics. I had a heart-to-heart conversation with my Mom about the effects of my encounter. I learned that she experienced abuse as a child, too. We cried and mourned together then made the conscious decision to move on.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean what happened to me was “okay.” It was inexcusable. I was exposed to sexuality before I my mind and body were ready. I came to believe that men were untrustworthy and that I “deserved” what happened. However, I am choosing, by the grace of God, to leave all those things at the cross.
God has used my testimony to help other abused women see patterns of unhealthy behavior. I love to share about how powerful God’s presence has been with me in the darkest times of depression. I readily acknowledge the gift counseling and emotional support have been. I thank God for his grace.
Help for Survivors
Life Counseling Solutions offers a faith based 12 week group for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse called ‘Wounded Heart’ based on the teaching of Dr. Dan B. Allendar, facilitated by Zuleida Herba, LMHC, CHHC. Enrollment is open and rolling for both a men’s and women’s group. Please call our office 407-622-1770 to sign up or for more information.
Zuleida is an experienced therapist, but she is also a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, and a survivor. Zuleida’s therapeutic specialty is relationship. Her clients know her for bringing her best therapy for “Women and those that they love” She is skilled at addressing important issues: Relationship, Depression, Co-Dependency, Anxiety, and Abuse, to name a few. Families, Women, and Teenage girls in crisis connect especially well with her. She is well versed in the unique stresses and multiple balancing acts that busy families face, especially with families that require crisis therapy intervention.