Childhood-Trauma Recovery/abuse

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Question
How can I help my child heal from sexual abuse? I know counseling is good, but what can I do? What things should I not do?

Answer
Hi Jeanine - This is a complex subject -I applaud you for asking. any childhood abuse usually results from one or more caregivers being a "Grown Wounded Child" (GWC):

http://sfhelp.org/gwc/gwc.htm

http://sfhelp.org/gwc/means.htm

http://sfhelp.org/relate/abuse.htm

So I suggest that you assess yourself and your child's other parent -and any other important caregives - for psychological wounds:

http://sfhelp.org/gwc/assess.htm

If you find any, commit to long-term wound reduction:

http://sfhelp.org/gwc/recover.htm

http://sfhelp.org/relate/gwc.htm

Typically, abused kids suffer **major** shame, guilt, and anger - so encourage your child to express those - over and over again, and do what you can to patiently rebuild the child's trust in adults and her or his self-esteem:

http://sfhelp.org/gwc/wounds/shame.htm

http://sfhelp.org/gwc/wounds/distrust.htm

If you feel significant guilt about the abuse, zsee these options:

http://sfhelp.org/gwc/wounds/guilt.htm

As you recover, familiarize yourself with the traits of a high-nurturance family, and strive to create them for all of you:

http://sfhelp.org/fam/health.htm

Help your child and other involved family members **grieve** what you all lost because of the abuse: e.g. loss of normalcy, family integrity and harmony, trust (in the abuser), etc.

http://sfhelp.org/grief/qa.htm

http://sfhelp.org/grief/guide3.htm

This requires your family adults to learn how to listen to the child and each other:  http://sfhelp.org/cx/skills/listen.htm

Sexual (or any) abuse is a FAMILY problem, so I suggest you hire a professional family theapist who specializes in sexual-abuse recovery. Show them these articles and discuss their application b to your unique family.

Educate yourself: read several books on recovery from sexual abuse to broaden your understanding. Search Amazon, and ask any clinician you use for suggestions.

Depending on the child's age, be alert for local abuse-survivor's support groups. Search the Web for "sexual abuse recovery" - there are a LOT of resources!

I suggest you do NOT:

* avoid talking about the abuse and its effects among your family adults;

* pretend to the child that "everything will be all right." Expect the psychological scars to last for some **years** under the best of circumstances. And do not...

* blame yourself for the abuse; or...

* focus in/directly on "how bad" the abuser is. S/He is **wounded**, not "bad."  

Overall, steadily love the child and yourself, seek informed help, and use and model these wisdoms:

http://sfhelp.org/pop/prayers.htm

As you see Jeanine, there is a LOT you can do for the child, yourself, and your family! Again - I applaud you for aasking, and allowing my response to be public. Brava!! If these articles bring up further questions, please ask.

Compassionately, Pete  

Childhood-Trauma Recovery

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Peter Gerlach

Expertise

I can answer questions about what constitutes and causes childhood neglect and abuse, and what those cause in typical young people. I can describe the specific psychological wounds that result, and options for assessing those wounds and reducing them over time. I can advise on addiction management (including codependence); mood disorders; depression; relationship problems; avoiding courtship mistakes; effective parenting; bonding, losses, and healthy grief; finding your life purpose; hitting nbottom; effective support groups and clinical help; PTSD; ADD/HD; and how to relate well to psychologically-wounded people. I can refer people to several different ways to recover, including inner-family therapy. I cannot answer legal or medical questions about trauma recovery I have uploaded many videos about trauma recovery to YouTube - see the "gercacn" channel at http://www.youtube.com/my_playlists?p=FDDB7B5952B93B5B"

Experience

I have been a professional family-systems therapist for 32 years. For 26 years, I have studied and recovered from my own childhood trauma (2 alcoholic parents), and have helped hundreds of self-motivated women and men do the same.

Organizations
Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACoA), SelfLeadership.com, SelfGrowth.com, Unity Church, and the National Stepfamily Resource Center's Experts Council (NSRC). I belong to and support Final Exit and Compassion and Choices nonprofit right-to-die organizations.

Publications
I have published a book on inner-wound assessment and recovery [Who's *Really* Running Your Life?" (Xlibris.com)], and have uploaded a free 7-module self study course ("Break the Cycle!") course on the Web: http://sfhelp.org. I also answer Expert" questions about effective communication, counseling, and stepfamily solutions.

Education/Credentials
I have a bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering (BSME) from Stanford University (1959) and a Masters degree in clinical Social Work (MSW) from George Williams College (1981). I have taken hundreds of post-grad education hours on trauma and recovery-related topics from perhaps 30 vetweran clinicians, and have read over 40 books on chldhood-trauma recovery, personality development, clinical hypnosis, spirituality, 12-step philosophy, multiple personalities, psychosynthesis, and "Voice Dialog." I have been recovering from my own childhood wounds since 1986 - and have gained a degree of serenity and life purpose I never believed possible as younger man. Helping "Grown Wounded Children" break the unseen legacy of ancestral neglect and abuse has become my life mission.

Awards and Honors
Hundreds of grateful emails and testamonies from clients and recoverers all over the world about my nonprofit recovery Web site. I was elected the president of the board of the Oak Park (IL) Family and Mental Health Center after serving for seveal years.

Past/Present Clients
Over 1000 men, women, couples, and families in the Chicago area, and hundreds of adult students in lay and professional seminars and classes. I now do phone and Skype counseling from Portland, OR (USA)

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