The simple definition of sexual trauma refers to any experience in which a person is subjected to a sexual act, or series of acts, that are unwanted and/or violate the person’s sense of autonomy, control, and personal safety. Example of sexual trauma include but is not limited to, sexual assault, rape, molestation, sexual harassment, or exposure to sexually explicit or violent material without consent. The CDC estimates that over half of women and about one in nine men have experienced sexual trauma at one point in their lives.
Like most forms of trauma, the definition may be simple, but the effects seldom are. The effects of sexual trauma vary widely among individuals based on a multitude of factors, including their past experiences, coping mechanisms, support systems, and the nature of the sexually traumatic event itself. As a society, we are still learning about the long-term effects trauma can have.
The challenge with most forms of trauma comes from the reverberating effects which can remain with the survivor for many years after the precipitating experience(s). Having a traumatic experience is unpleasant enough, but when the after-effects of an experience like sexual trauma remain with you, they can have a profound impact on your quality of life.
Sometimes people experience these effects without recognizing or even remembering the events that caused them in the first place. Treatment for sexual trauma can be instrumental in helping survivors process their experiences and develop coping tools that alleviate their symptoms and eventually allow them to move forward.
Some of the effects sexual trauma survivors experience can include:
Like other forms of trauma, traumatic sexual experiences can have effects that manifest in the body as well as the mind. Physical effects may include chronic pain, gastrointestinal problems, or sexual dysfunction. Taking note of any psychological or physical symptoms you have experienced can be useful to a therapist or other mental health professionals when and if you seek therapy for sexual trauma.
Physical sexual trauma symptoms may manifest as:
Going to therapy for sexual trauma requires courage, but the rewards are great. No one should have to endure the aftereffects of sexually traumatic experiences. In fact, there is no reason to when therapeutic interventions for trauma are more effective than ever before. A great deal of research has gone into developing evidence-based trauma treatment over just the past two decades. As the leading mental health treatment center in the Desert Southwest, Cottonwood Tucson remains at the forefront of proven trauma care methodologies.
It’s crucial to understand that everyone processes trauma differently. Some people may experience immediate distress following the incident. Others may suppress their reactions, with symptoms emerging weeks, months, or even years later. Undergoing therapy for sexual trauma is a uniquely personal journey. Providing professional mental health interventions including therapy and counseling is an important part of the work we do here at Cottonwood Tucson. Here you will find not only the latest in evidence-based sexual trauma treatment but a safe place with compassion and empathy.
Treating sexual trauma requires great sensitivity and empathy. One of the core goals in treatment is helping the survivor reclaim their power and sense of agency. At Cottonwood Tucson we use a number of approaches to treating sexual trauma. Perhaps chief among them is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Considered the de facto gold standard in psychotherapy modalities, CBT helps clients understand how thoughts and feelings affect behavior.
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is an approach we use for both sexual trauma treatment and PTSD among other conditions here at Cottonwood Tucson. EMDR therapy was developed specifically for trauma treatment and it has an exceptional track record for delivering real results in less time than most other treatment methods.
EMDR is different from exposure therapy in several ways. One of the key differences is that EMDR therapy does not re-expose the individual to their trauma. Instead, it creates a learning state in the brain that enables their experience to be stored differently.
Cottonwood Tucson understands that trauma affects different people in different ways. How a person responds to trauma and attempts to manage the complex feelings it brings about is a function of many different factors including their upbringing and childhood experiences, gender, and learned experiences. Because of these differences, each client we treat for sexual trauma here receives an individualized treatment program tailored to their unique needs.
Most clients with trauma benefit from a combination of therapeutic approaches. Cottonwood Tucson maintains a strict patient-to-staff ratio to safeguard our quality of care. This allows our clinicians the time they need to truly understand each client’s experience and formulate an effective treatment plan for them. Treatment plans may include a combination of individual and group therapy, therapeutic services like EMDR and somatic experiencing, medication, dietary changes, and exercise/fitness regimen as well as recreational therapy.
At Cottonwood, our PTSD program uses a combination of evidence-based treatment methods and holistic options that help survivors move on from painful memories.
Some of our specialized trauma services include:
Healing from the compound effects of trauma is a process. It will take time, energy, and courage to make progress. But, sexual trauma recovery is absolutely an attainable goal. You or your loved one do not need to live under the weight of past, unprocessed trauma any longer.
Cottonwood Tucson has earned its reputation for delivering exceptional care by remaining at the leading edge of developments in mental health treatment. We have been helping people overcome mental health conditions like sexual trauma for over 25 years. If you or someone you love could benefit from treatment for mental health or a substance use disorder, Cottonwood Tucson is ready to help. Contact us anytime, 24 hours a day at (888) 433-1069.