Abuse is a problem of epidemic proportions in the U.S. The Center for Disease Control estimates that 1 in 5 children, 1 in 4 women, and 1 in 11 men are victims of abuse within their lifetime. Many survivors of abuse agree that no matter how severe the physical injuries may be, the emotional scars hurt worse. Bruises, cuts and broken bones will heal naturally, but the pain caused by hurtful words, neglect, forced sexual acts and mind games eat away at the survivor on the inside.
Just like any wound, if left untreated, emotional injuries can cause medical, behavioral and psychological health problems. The long-term consequences can be minimized by early identification and treatment. Qualified mental health professionals can recognize the symptoms and provide treatment for children and adults who suffer from the painful effects of abuse. Through treatment, survivors begin to face their abuse, become empowered and reclaim their self-confidence. The parents and other family members can also learn how to be supportive to the survivor during the healing process.
Emma was an eight year-old girl who had been sexually abused by a family friend. Though the police had begun legal proceedings, Emma was struggling with the emotional after-effects of the abuse. Her parents brought her to Family Counseling Service for therapy. When she first came, she was anxious, insecure and cheerless. Her grades were suffering, she was not engaging with her peers at school, and she said she wished she were dead. After several appointments with a qualified therapist, Emma’s grades improved, she began playing again with friends, and she regained her sweet, self-assured expression. Thanks to her parent’s early response and professional counseling, Emma was able to become empowered and renew her hopes for the future.