8 Heartbreaking Thoughts You Face As An Adult Survivor of Child Sexual Abuse

6. “No one could love me for me.”

You want love and you’re sure you won’t get it. Or, you believe that love will hurt you.

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You bend over backward to give more than you receive. But, nothing ever seems like enough. Or you keep your walls up and stay away.

When you live in hiding, it’s because you can’t expose who you are for fear you that the real you isn’t lovable. That is the you that wants and needs love and care.

The real you is the little child living inside you. The one who has been hurt. Feeling that no one can love you is excruciating. When you live with the belief that people want to use you, it’s not safe to show your real self and be hurt again.

You don’t believe you are lovable because no one in childhood made you feel you were. And, being sexually used and betrayed only reinforced the feeling that you aren’t. Or that you can only be “loved” for what you give.

Plus, being sexually abused is probably not the only childhood abuse you suffered. You may have been criticized, neglected, or made to feel you were wrong or not good enough in other ways too. All of this negatively affects your self-esteem.

Now, you have those same voices in your own head, piled on top of your shame. If you feel unlovable and couldn’t trust love as a child, is trusting love even possible?

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7. “Is it possible to trust love?”

Yes, it is possible to learn to trust love. Ordinarily, it takes psychotherapy to help you work out all of the ways that sexual abuse has affected your trust and your self-esteem.

Trusting love now is not only hard because you couldn’t trust love as a child. It’s impossible to trust love when you live with a voice inside that says you aren’t lovable. Or that you are being used.

Psychotherapy also means trying to trust. And, that isn’t easy when you’re afraid. Or if you’ve tried psychotherapy, maybe many times, and it didn’t help. You’re still living with the effects of your sexual abuse.

You may not have had psychotherapy with an expert who understands sexual abuse. Or one that could allow you to feel, in the sessions, the kind of distrust and fear you live with. That’s both necessary and important.

So, how should psychotherapy help you? And what kind of therapy is the best for the ways that sexual abuse affects self-esteem? You need a kind of psychotherapy that gets to the not-conscious roots of your shame and helps build your self-esteem. That’s usually a psychoanalytic psychotherapist.


8. “Will I ever have better self-esteem and how?”

You can definitely learn how to build confidence and have better self-esteem. No question, sexual abuse damages your good feelings about yourself as much as it damages trust. Self-love is almost impossible.

But, if you choose a psychotherapist who specializes in sexual abuse and understands not only its conscious effects but also what you can’t know about yourself, you can learn to trust and you can feel lovable.

This means working out all the ways it’s difficult to trust. And, the ways that distrust will inevitably find its way into therapy.

You need a therapist that first helps you build trust by understanding all the ways you can’t and don’t. A therapist that then creates a space where you can safely explore and work out your self-blame, feelings of shame, and the fears that anyone you get close to is a molester.

When you have this kind of therapy, you will begin to feel much better about yourself, relationships will feel safer, and you’ll learn that you are lovable.

Life can change for the better.

Written by Sandra E. Cohen, PhD
Originally appeared in yourtango

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