Healing from child sex abuse (aka CSA) is serious business.
But before we even start the conversation about healing, let’s look at some statistics.
CSA happens to girls, and it happens to boys. In fact, current statistics report that in the US, 1 in 10 kids will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday.
As a result,
There are currently 42 million survivors of CSA living in America.
Unfortunately, that number is most likely conservative since:
60% of victims never tell anyone about their abuse.
To read why people don’t disclose their abuse, read this blog post.
As a CSA survivor myself, I know how scary it is to tell someone your abuse story.
With that said, let me tell you why it’s important to do so.
Because the fallout from CSA is substantial.
Issues resulting from abuse can include:
- Self-medication: drugs, alcohol, sex, etc.
- Self-harm: ie. “cutting”
- Disordered eating: too much or too little
- Mental illness: depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, etc.
- Focus issues
- Dysfunction in relationships
- Anger or rage
- Decline in academic performance
What if there was a safe space to begin healing from child sex abuse?
I’ve found such a space.
The space is UNLEASH. UNLEASH is an 8-week survivor-created and survivor-led online course featuring film, storytelling, personal contemplation exercises, and a virtual support group to benefit survivors looking to heal from child sex abuse.
The UNLEASH program is the brainchild of Nicole Bromley, a CSA survivor and activist in the child safety space. Bromley facilitates each Zoom session with the help of a trauma-informed therapist.
I loved my UNLEASH experience.
Last fall, to further my own healing from child sex abuse, I participated in the UNLEASH course with a handful of other women.
I was extremely impressed by all the components of the program: the excellent videos featuring Bromley and other survivors, the beautifully illustrated online workbook, and of course, the Zoom sessions. Without a doubt, the live sessions were my favorite part of UNLEASH.
Each session lasts one hour with Bromley and the therapist intentionally guiding the conversation. Participants share as much or as little as they want about their childhood and present day experiences.
In my group, the participants were all at different places in their healing journey. As such, the group was able to compassionately support women telling their stories for the first time. Others who were decades into their healing process (cough, cough—me—cough) gave hope to those with fewer years in.
What happens in an UNLEASH session, stays in the UNLEASH session.
My UNLEASH group truly felt like one of the safest places I’ve ever been. In fact, it seemed almost sacred to me. To be with women brave enough to reach out for help and courageous enough to share some specifics of their circumstance was truly an honor.
My favorite part was watching women healing from child sex abuse before my very eyes.
Each week it seemed, one or more women experienced breakthroughs in how they saw themselves, their experience, and their futures.
Because of all the positive takeaways from my UNLEASH experience, I highly recommend this program to anyone hoping to experience healing from sex abuse. I say anyone because:
The UNLEASH program is available to women and men. There are separate groups for both.
If you are a survivor of child sex abuse and don’t feel ready for formal counseling sessions,
UNLEASH is a great first step on the journey of healing from child sex abuse.
- You’ll be with a group of fellow survivors.
- Nicole is a very experienced and empathetic group facilitator.
- The trauma-informed therapist is available to weigh in on specific topics or answer individual questions.
- Each session focuses on a different issue that survivors often face.
In addition, upon “graduation,” you’ll be invited to join a private online community so you can stay in touch with your support community, if you wish.
Full disclosure: UNLEASH is not free. However, it is significantly less expensive than traditional therapy. Plus, scholarships are almost always available.