Sexual Abuse

We work with survivors of abuse and family members to help you overcome and thrive

Sexual abuse refers to inappropriate and unwanted sexual contact or exposure. It involves a wide range of actions between two or more people.

It can involve a child and an adult, two children, two adults, multiple children or multiple adults. Some examples include the exposure of adult genitalia to children, use of a child for pornography or forced sexual acts.

In child sexual abuse, often the adult abusing the child belongs to his or her family or knows the child. Sexual abuse between adults can be a form of domestic violence. Among adults, forced sexual activity, even between spouses, is considered sexual abuse.

When you suffer sexual abuse you also suffer psychological damage. Children age five or older become very confused as they try to understand why someone they know and trust hurts them.

The abuse confuses your sense of whom you can trust. You may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of sexual abuse.

If you or your child have experienced sexual abuse, you may suffer depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts or low self-esteem.

How We Can Help

At IU Health, behavioral health professionals work with survivors of abuse and family members to overcome and thrive after sexual abuse. Highly skilled IU Health physicians, psychiatrists and counselors offer a wide range of therapies and services to heal you or your child’s physical and mental injuries resulting from sexual abuse.

Our affiliations with Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health and Indiana University School of Medicine mean you get access to the most up-to-date treatments for sexual abuse. This includes children who need assistance, adults suffering from sexual abuse or adults dealing with the impact of their own or their child’s abuse.

The Methodist Center of Hope offers private, individual, compassionate care for victims of sexual abuse. One-on-one nursing forensic care is tailored to the individual needs of each patient, at age 14 and older. The Methodist Center of Hope evaluates and treats 1500 patients a year. To contact the Methodist Center of Hope, call 317.963.3394

The Pediatric Center of Hope provides extensive medical evaluations and crisis counseling for children 13 and younger, alleged to have been sexually abused. The Indiana University sexual abuse clinic evaluates and treats about 500 sexual abuse victims each year. To contact the Pediatric Center of Hope, call 317.274.2617

The child protection program at Indiana University School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics employs faculty physicians and the only board certified child abuse pediatricians in Indiana.

Experts at the child and adolescent psychiatry clinic and the adult psychiatry clinic deliver specialized treatments for anxiety disorders.

Understanding Sexual Abuse

In child sexual abuse, often the adult abusing the child belongs to his or her family or knows the child. Sexual abuse between adults can be a form of domestic violence. Among adults, forced sexual activity, even between spouses, is considered sexual abuse.

When you suffer sexual abuse you also suffer psychological damage. Children age five or older become very confused as they try to understand why someone they know and trust hurts them.

The abuse confuses your sense of whom you can trust. You may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of sexual abuse.

If you or your child have experienced sexual abuse, you may suffer depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts or low self-esteem.

How We Can Help

At IU Health, behavioral health professionals work with survivors of abuse and family members to overcome and thrive after sexual abuse. Highly skilled IU Health physicians, psychiatrists and counselors offer a wide range of therapies and services to heal you or your child’s physical and mental injuries resulting from sexual abuse.

Our affiliations with Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health and Indiana University School of Medicine mean you get access to the most up-to-date treatments for sexual abuse. This includes children who need assistance, adults suffering from sexual abuse or adults dealing with the impact of their own or their child’s abuse.

The Methodist Center of Hope offers private, individual, compassionate care for victims of sexual abuse. One-on-one nursing forensic care is tailored to the individual needs of each patient, at age 14 and older. The Methodist Center of Hope evaluates and treats 1500 patients a year. To contact the Methodist Center of Hope, call 317.963.3394

The Pediatric Center of Hope provides extensive medical evaluations and crisis counseling for children 13 and younger, alleged to have been sexually abused. The Indiana University sexual abuse clinic evaluates and treats about 500 sexual abuse victims each year. To contact the Pediatric Center of Hope, call 317.274.2617

The child protection program at Indiana University School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics employs faculty physicians and the only board certified child abuse pediatricians in Indiana.

Experts at the child and adolescent psychiatry clinic and the adult psychiatry clinic deliver specialized treatments for anxiety disorders.

IU Health Behavioral Health professionals use many different types of therapy to address the symptoms of sexual abuse in children and adults.

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.

Treatment

IU Health Behavioral Health professionals use many different types of therapy to address the symptoms of sexual abuse in children and adults.

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.

Patient Stories for Sexual Abuse

Child Protection Program

This program of Indiana University School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics, founded in 1985, provides consultation services to children, families and professionals involved with child maltreatment. Its mission aims to improve care, evaluation and coordination of services to 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.

Resources

Child Protection Program

This program of Indiana University School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics, founded in 1985, provides consultation services to children, families and professionals involved with child maltreatment. Its mission aims to improve care, evaluation and coordination of services to 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.