Child sex abuse can scar the psyche of the victim and its repercussions can last well into adult life. A combination of factors keeps the victim from not seeking immediate help. These include unwarranted guilt, shame, and fear of retribution by the perpetrator, etc. Moreover, the emotional impact of the trauma is so severe that the victim is inhibited from opening it again. The psychological mechanism that arises in this milieu is denial. Denial consequently inhibits the victim from availing conventional therapeutic options.
The most common manifestation of child sex abuse is dysfunctional intimate relationships in adult life. Since healthy intimate relations involves a healthy sex life, the residual psychological baggage of child sex abuse carries over to later relationships. Herein is a pointer for marriage and relationship counselors. It is imperative that their psychotherapeutic approach takes into consideration early life trauma, especially sexual abuse. That way, the therapist can see beneath the presented symptoms of dysfunction and look into its origins. The first task is to make the patient recognize and acknowledge the traumatic event. Once the trauma is clearly articulated, the patient is made cognizant of how the carried-over emotional baggage is interfering with her current relationships.
A competent psychotherapist will also help the patient get rid of unmerited guilt and shame that she is bound to carry. It is natural for a child to take responsibility for good or bad events that happen to her. This means that the child feels enormous guilt and shame upon being sexually abused. In other words, the child is not in a position to critically analyze the situation and apportion guilt on the deviant adult. It is important that the psychotherapist simulates the mental conceptions of the child and demonstrate how they are founded on ignorance.
Having recognized the childhood origins of dysfunction, the therapist should also consider if there are other countervailing factors in the personality of the adult. For often, interpersonal issues are complex and do not lend themselves to simplistic attributions. The scars of child abuse compound a preexisting personality trait or influence a particular trait acquired later. The role of the therapist is to unravel to the patient these multiple layers of discordance. In psychological issues arising from sexual abuse, clarity is the first great step toward recovery.
(n.d) What is Considered Child Sexual Abuse?, Stop it Now! Together We Can Prevent the Sexual Abuse of Children, retrieved from http://www.stopitnow.org/warning_signs_csa_definition on 22nd October 2014
(n.d) Sexual Abuse at a Glance, National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children, retrieved from http://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/child-abuse-and-neglect/child-sexual-abuse/> on 22nd October 2014