How We Can Help
Sexual Abuse Treatment Information
Many different types of therapy are used to address the symptoms that result from sexual abuse in children and adults. At IU Health Behavioral Health, we collaborate with physicians, psychiatrists and counselors to deliver the most effective combination of treatments to manage these symptoms.
- Psychotherapy. Therapy sessions with a psychiatrist or counselor can teach you to manage and redirect your thoughts and your body’s response to them.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This form of treatment is often used for anxiety that accompanies sexual abuse. You talk about the trauma you endured and learn techniques to lower the stress associated with sexual abuse. You learn relaxation techniques and to not be afraid of your memories. You actively work with your therapist to examine the relationships among your thoughts, feelings and behaviors, and what leads to anxiety-causing situations. You learn to modify your thinking patterns to improve coping. This therapy may include exposure techniques designed to make you comfortable in situations that cause anxiety. The more you get used to the specific exposure, the less anxiety you feel.
- Individual therapy. In sessions with your mental health provider, you work to understand why you act and think in ways that are troubling to you or others. This helps you regain control of your behaviors and learn skills to make changes in your actions.
- Dialectical behavioral therapy. Some child sexual abuse survivors may develop borderline personality disorders. A child may suffer a psyche split as he or she tries to reconcile the abuse. This type of therapy trains you or your child to be aware of the situation around you and teaches you to control your behaviors and emotions. It uses different approaches to deal with each unique situation. There is a skill or coping mechanism—such as problem solving or distraction—for each symptom. You can watch TV or read a book to change a harmful mindset. Self-soothing is another technique. You can calm yourself with comforting sights, smells and tastes. This type of therapy also teaches distress tolerance and emotion regulation, as the triggered memories often cause emotional turmoil for years to come.
- Group therapy. By meeting with others who also were sexually abused, you gain ongoing support. You are able to share and gain referrals to resources and information about what works when seeking recovery. Group therapy is highly effective because it lets you know you are not alone and that the abuse is not your fault.
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). This specialized treatment combines cognitive therapy with directed eye movements and is used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder, which often results from sexual abuse. When trauma occurs, it is recorded in the visual center of the brain. When the memory of a traumatic event is triggered, your body re-experiences the physiological responses as if you are reliving the event. EMDR teaches you how to stop this negative response loop.
- Play therapy. A therapist uses games, drawings and other methods to help children with post-traumatic stress disorder process their traumatic memories.
- Creative therapy. Art therapy, writing and journaling assist you in sorting through your emotions.
Sexual Abuse Locations & Physicians
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Sexual Abuse Support Services
Learn more about sexual abuse treatments at these websites:
A Sampling of Sexual Abuse Support Services
Child Protection Program
This program of Indiana University School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics was founded in 1985 and provides consultation services to children, families and professionals involved with child maltreatment. The mission is to improve care, evaluation and coordination of services to children who are suspected victims of child abuse or neglect.
National Institute of Mental Health
A scientific organization dedicated to the research and understanding of post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders, depression and all mental illness.
Child Welfare Information Gateway
This division of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services is dedicated to protecting children and strengthening families.
Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN)
This is the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization. It features information on getting help and information to overcome and prevent sexual abuse.