The experience of child sexual abuse can be painful and everlasting if steps are not taken to recover. Recovery does take work but the healing in the end makes the process well worth it. To help understand the impact of child sexual abuse on future relationships and what someone can do to recover from child sexual abuse as an adult, I have interviewed therapist Jessica Bollinger LCSW.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
“I am in private practice in Lexington, in Central Kentucky. I love my work! What I love about the counseling field, is all of the opportunities to keep learning new things, techniques, etc that can help my clients. I have studied EMDR, which can help clients with big trauma, and also a series of small traumas. I have studied and practice a fantastic modality called DNMS'”Developmental Needs Meeting Strategy developed by Shirley Jean Schmidt. I have found great transformation with my clients with this work.”
What type of impact can child sexual abuse have on future relationships?
“When we are raised by caregivers who treat us in a disrespectful and inappropriate way, because we have mirror neurons in our brain, we “take on” those negative messages. We do this unconsciously. The DNMS helps clients get “unstuck” from those negative messages.”
“Childhood sexual abuse leaves insidious scars on a person’s life. It takes away a childhood and the right to feel free, and to play. There is a secret that makes the child feel separated from everyone else. The world just feels different.”
“Many take on different ways to “numb” themselves from feeling. Abusing alcohol and drugs can be typical. Some might take on self-sabotaging behaviors such as cutting. Splitting or disassociating can take place. All of these things are what the body might do to survive.”
“These defensive behaviors can be something the adult survivor is ashamed about.”
“Shame layers on shame.”
How can someone recover from child sexual abuse as an adult?
“Recovery from childhood sexual abuse entails that person to reconnect to their innate goodness. They are not to blame; none of it was their fault. Recovery happens by not wanting to live unconsciously anymore. They have been experts at stuffing feelings. They can have a new vision of life without the defensive self-sabotaging behaviors.”
“Recovery might begin by an old memory popping up. Many might be afraid to seek help because they think that there might be terrible memories come up that they don’t want to deal with them. You will not have any memory come back that your body is not ready to deal with. A new memory is your body’s way to say, ‘ok, you are ready to face this now and work through it.'”
“The way to recovery starts with a decision. I don’t want to feel and act this way anymore. Reaching out to a book, The Courage to Heal by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis is a good start. Getting referrals for good therapists. Interviewing therapists and making sure that they feel like a good match. It is a journey of healing. Group work can be healing.”
What last advice would you like to leave for someone who is trying to recover from child sexual abuse as an adult?
“Recovery is a journey worth taking leading the survivor to get their life back and the joy that they deserve.”
Thank you Jessica for doing the interview on how someone can recover from child sexual abuse as an adult. For more information on Jessica Bollinger or her work you can check out her website on imagoconnection.com.
How to Stop Being a Victim of Verbal Abuse
How to Forgive An Abusive Parent
How to Overcome Memories of Childhood Sexual Abuse