Carol Boulware, MFT, Ph.D.

Los Angeles - Santa Monica & Redondo Beach, California

Los Angeles psychotherapist helps with depression, anxiety, panic, stress, anger, sexual problems, sex therapy, communication problems, marriage / relationship difficulties, co-dependency, and adults emotionally, physically or sexually abused as children. Over 20 years counseling & psychology experience. EMDR Certified Therapist-Level II.

Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse

What Is Sexual Abuse?

Sexual abuse represents any kind of sexual contact between an adult or older teen and a child. This behavior is used to gain power over the child and often involves a betrayal of the child's trust.

There are many types of sexual abuse, some include physical contact or touching offenses. This includes fondling, touching sexual organs, masturbation, making the child touch the adult sexually, and vaginal or anal penetration with self or objects. Non touching offenses include exposing a child to pornographic material, indecent exposure, leering and deliberately putting the child in the position of having to witness an act of sexual intercourse.

What Kind Of Person Would Victimize A Child?

People who sexually abuse suffer from emotional immaturity, low self-esteem, an inability to see harm in their actions and lack the knowledge to control their impulses. Often the offenders were victims of child sexual abuse themselves. Many abusers are not strangers, they are often people of position or power in our lives, such as, teachers, doctors, baby-sitters, neighbors, parents, peers, siblings, relatives and clergy.

How Common Is Child Sexual Abuse?

Studies suggest that about 10% of children under the age of 18 are sexually abused. By gender, about 11-14% of girls and 4-5% of boys under the age of 18 have been sexually abused. However, these averages are considered conservative since many occurrences of sexual abuse are never reported.

Was I Sexually Abused?

Pay attention to your feelings and follow your gut. A lot of victims of sexual abuse tend to block out memories they have of the incident only to be triggered by painful reminders: specific sounds, smells, words and facial expressions. If you suspect that you were sexually abused, you probably were. Trust you feelings and memories.

What Are The Affects Of Sexual Abuse?

Being in your body

  • Do you feel at home in your body?
  • Do you feel comfortable expressing yourself sexually with another?
  • Do you feel that you are a part of your body or does your body feel like a separate entity?
  • Have you ever intentionally and physically hurt yourself?
  • Do you find it difficult to listen to your body?

Emotions

  • Do you feel out of control of your feelings?
  • Do you feel you sometimes don't understand all the feelings you are experiencing?
  • Are you overwhelmed by the wide range of feelings you have?

Relationships

  • What are your expectations of your partner in a relationship?
  • Do you find it easy to trust others?
  • Do you find difficulty in making commitments?
  • Even though you're in a relationship, are you still lonely?
  • Is it hard for you to allow others to get close to you?
  • Do you find yourself in relationships with people who remind you of your abuser, or you know is no good for you?

Self-Confidence

  • Do you find it difficult to love yourself?
  • Do you have a hard time accepting yourself?
  • Are you ashamed of yourself?
  • Do you have expectations of yourself that aren't realistic?

Sexuality

  • Do you enjoy sex?
  • Do you find it difficult to express yourself sexually?
  • Do you find yourself using sex to get close to someone?
  • Does sex make you feel dirty?
  • Are you "present" during sex?

What Problems are Caused by Sexual Abuse?

Major Sexual Symptoms of Sexual Abuse

  1. Difficulty with becoming aroused and feeling sensations
  2. Sex feels like an obligation
  3. Sexual thoughts and images that are disturbing
  4. Inappropriate sexual behaviors or sexual compulsivity
  5. Vaginal pain
  6. Inability to achieve orgasm or other orgasmic difficulties
  7. Erections problems or ejaculatory difficulty
  8. Feeling dissociated while having sex
  9. Detachment or emotional distance while having sex
  10. Being afraid of sex or avoiding sex
  11. Guilt, fear, anger, disgust or other negative feelings when being touched

Major Long-Term Medical Symptoms of Sexual Abuse

  1. Insomnia
  2. Vaginal or Pelvic Pain
  3. Eating Disorders
  4. Headaches
  5. TMJ syndrome
  6. Low back pain, chest pressure
  7. Erection problems or ejaculatory difficulty
  8. Asthma
  9. Dizziness/fainting
  10. Self harming/self-mutilation
  11. Chronic physical complaints

Major Long-Term Psychological Symptoms of Sexual Abuse

  1. Anxiety
  2. Panic Attacks
  3. Low self-esteem
  4. Stress disorders - PTSD
  5. Personality disorders
  6. Substance abuse
  7. Self-abuse behaviors

Why Do I Have To Deal With It Now, If It Happened Back Then?

There are many reasons why children do not deal with the abuse at the time of the incident: unconscious feelings of shame, disbelief, self blame. Abusers may also threaten or bribe children into not speaking up, convincing the child that it is indeed their fault, and that they will never be believed otherwise. These tactics are used to silence the child. Under no circumstances, is the child to blame for the abuse. Although, if the abuse is not dealt with in a therapeutic and healing setting, the effects of past abuse will remain and undermine the victim for years to come.

Does It Get Better?

The worst part, the abuse, is over. Now your next step is to surround yourself with supportive loving people, and focus on the desire you have to heal yourself. This is your process. You must be gentle and patient with yourself as your healing process gently unfolds. You are giving yourself the gift of coming to life, again.

Now What?

You are not alone, and in fact, in recognizing what has happened to you and speaking about your experience is one of the most vital components in the healing process. You have already taken a giant step. If you think that you have been a victim of sexual abuse, you need to take action immediately so your life will not be undermined by the past one day more. Get help.

EMDR Therapy Offers New Hope!

Patients who have suffered for years from anxiety or distressing memories, nightmares, insomnia from sexual abuse or other traumatic events can now gain relief from a revolutionary new therapy called EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing).

Research shows that EMDR is rapid, safe and effective. EMDR does not involve the use of drugs or hypnosis. It is a simple, non-invasive patient-therapist collaboration in which healing can happen effectively.

This powerful short-term therapy is highly effective for a wide range of disorders including recovery from sexual abuse, rape and traumatic incidents, depression, panic attacks, phobias, eating disorders and poor self-image, stress, worry.

Many patients who have made slow progress in the past, or who have not benefited from more traditional therapies say that with EMDR they have finally found something that works for them!

Dr. Boulware, EMDRIA Certified Therapist-Level II Trained
Offices in Los Angeles, CA


For information about making an In-Office Consultation Appointment or
if you are interested in a Free Phone Consultation CLICK HERE FIRST

CALL (310) 395-3351

Day & Evening/Weekend Appointments

E-Mail: Carolphd@psychotherapist.net

Carol Boulware, MFT, Ph.D.
Licensed Marriage, Family Therapist - #MFT11632
ABS Certified Sex Therapist #1466
Board Certified Expert in Traumatic Stress
EMDR Certified Therapist- Level II- 1994
EMDRIA Approved Consultant
Somatic Experiencing Practitioner
3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550
Los Angeles, California 90403
(310) 395-3351
Additional offices in Santa Monica & Redondo Beach

Copyright ©1998 - 2006 Carol Boulware, Ph.D.