“Many people who suffer from sexual abuse or sexual assault can also suffer long-term effects from the abuse,” says John M. Grohol, Psy.D. Going to a shelter for sexually abused teenagers to give counseling for the first time is not easy. You may act and sound friendly, but you’ll be able to tell how hesitant many of them are to greet visitors. It is difficult to listen to them as well while recounting the reasons why they ended up in the facility instead of living a normal life.
Some of these kids, after all, are stowaways who got mixed up with a dangerous crowd. Others were violated in their own homes. If you visit a housing system for girls, there may even be a few who became pregnant at a young age because of sexual abuse.
Despite the sadness that may engulf you, though, you need to get over it so that you can counsel these poor souls. They have to let go of their past before they return to the outside world again. That can only happen if you help them. So here are steps you may take to ensure that you’ll be an effective counselor.
- Earn Their Trust
The truth about sexual abuse cases is that the victims typically know the perpetrators personally. “So often child sexual abuse occurs in families, and in social contexts in which the family knows and trusts the perpetrators,” according to Sharie Stines, Psy.D. It may be a classmate, a family friend, or even a relative who is already welcome in their lives. Thus, once the evil deed takes place, they find it hard to trust another person again.
What you can do to prove that you mean no harm is to open about yourself at first. Keep your distance from the teenager too, especially if you are of the same gender as the violator. More importantly, speak more like a friend than a mental health professional so that the kids don’t feel the need to hide from you.
There’s no way to estimate how long you have to wait before an abused child trusts you. Nevertheless, you’ll be able to tell once it occurs since that’s when the teen starts to smile and talk without prompting.
- Work Out The Negative Effects
In case a sexually abused teen grew up with malicious acts performed on them, there is a possibility that they will try to follow the wrongdoer’s lead and commit the same violations. It was like doing sexual stuff is all they know. Unfortunately, that is true for many teens that were abused over and over.
Once you have earned their trust, therefore, you should start removing the negative behaviors the kids developed because of the violence. It may be tough to make them see reason in the beginning, but you ought to remember that children are born to be smart. After months or years of helping them come to their senses, you will notice an incredible transformation in their character.
- Offer Support
As a counselor, you may have plenty of diplomas and certifications lining your walls. It is likely that you have also read tons of books regarding counseling victims of abuse. However, if you feel worried about treating the underaged ones for the first time, don’t be. You have to recall that they need support more than anything. After all, you cannot take away their ugly past on your own. Your job is to assist the teenagers in changing their thinking patterns so that they’ll be able to figure out how to eliminate their demons. According to psychiatrist Lynn Ponton, MD, “An effective counselor can identify negative thinking patterns that may be feeding feelings of sadness, depression or anxiety.”
It is always better to allow the victims to come up with a solution to their problem themselves than to supply it to them. If they only hear it from you, the words might enter their right ear and exit the left. Considering it comes from their mouth, however, their brain already believes that it will work. Hence, they will focus on genuinely making it work.
In The End
Instead of allowing the children to become dependent on you, you have to teach them how to cope with their issues. You may inform their guardians about it too. This way, even years after your counseling sessions end, the teen won’t relapse and relive the adverse effects of sexual abuse.