Sexual assault can damage survivors and can lead to enduring psychological issues that manifest themselves in many ways. Survivors of sexual assault may become depressed, have problems with relationships or resort to drug or alcohol abuse to self-medicate emotional pain.
Treatment for sexual assault can help patients cope with the effects of the assault, resolve any emotional issues and address any issues related to depression or substance abuse.
Treatment for Trauma and Substance Abuse
Many survivors of sexual assault struggle with substance abuse or addiction and enter treatment as a result. Unfortunately, the trauma is not always recognized as a contributing factor to the substance abuse, and treatment may focus on a specific behavior without addressing the trauma that caused it. This approach to treatment is likely to be ineffective for trauma survivors and may actually do more harm than good.
Survivors of sexual abuse and trauma not only have a high incidence of substance abuse, they also have a high incidence of relapse. According to Larke Huang, director of a section of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), people with a history of sexual abuse who enter treatment for substance abuse may be at risk for re-traumatization if the treatment ignores the trauma. Treatment providers need to recognize when substance abuse is rooted in trauma, and must treat the trauma as well as the related behavioral issues.
Gender-specific Treatment for Female Survivors of Sexual Assault
Sexual assault can happen to anyone, but the vast majority of sexual assault survivors are female. Sexual assault is often perpetrated by acquaintances and constitutes a violation of a relationship of trust: females who endure sexual assault often distrust men. Treatment in a gender-specific environment allows women to relax and open up to others who are supportive and empathetic.
In this environment women can explore their true feelings in great depth. Gender-specific treatment for female survivors of sexual assault is often much more effective in bringing about real healing.
If you are a victim of sexual assault it is very likely that you suffer from one or more problems as a result. The good news is that treatment is available that can help you move forward, feel good about yourself again and regain control of your life. Professional counseling can help you address and cope with the emotional scars from the assault and any issues such as depression or drug abuse that resulted.