Sexual Abuse Survivors Need Strong Support Systems, Says Counselor

Sexual Abuse Survivors Need Strong Support Systems, Says Counselor

Sexual abuse in children and teenagers is said to be a block and detriment in all areas of a person’s life as they grow into adulthood.  While many do not conform to therapy or counseling sessions, it has proven to help many victims.  According to Jubilee Ministries, they have been reaching out to the victims and are offering counseling.  It is a huge burden to bear as the trauma can manifest into anxiety, low self-esteem, promiscuity, among other issues.  Roshawan Ysaguirre a counselor with the Community Rehabilitation Department, spoke to Love News today on the possible hardships survivors of sexual violence may face. She also stressed the need for these survivors to have a strong support system of family and friends to help them cope with the trauma.

Roshawn Ysaguirre, MSC Counselor, Community Rehabilitation Department: “We’re talking about childhood sexual abuse, sexual assault and those terminologies come under sexual violence. So any form of abuse, assault, rape is considered sexual violence.” 

Reporter: Excellent. So, ma’am, sexual violence, very apt term, perpetrated on a child. Somebody nine, ten, eleven years old critical time in their life. Let’s talk a little bit about the impact something like that can have. 

Roshawn Ysaguirre, MSC Counselor, Community Rehabilitation Department: “Childhood sexual abuse the impact is tremendous. We’re looking at a child who is in the developmental stages of developing not only physical attributes but their mental health, their identity. And that impact is trauma and any type of trauma in childhood has a lasting impact into adulthood. And we’re not only talking about mental health issues that can occur, anxiety, depression, suicide ideations. We’re looking at also at physical health. You could develop things like hypertension, heart disease, all the stressors that are caused on your body affects not only your mental health but your physical health as well. The support that family friends can provide is one, first and foremost, believe survivors. That’s the first thing. It’s hard as is with the experience that they’ve had. It’s very traumatic and to have somebody sit with you in that space and explain to you what happened, that’s a lot for them. So believe survivors, that’s the first thing. Also, have a lot of patience with whether it’s a friend, whether it’s a family member, and give them that space to be able to just share how they feel because their emotions may be all over the place. They may be feeling angry, hurt, sad, guilt, shame. Their emotions is, you know, up and down. You have to be able to provide that space for them to express how they feel. Hence, you know, the support and the patience. Also verbalize your support, “I believe you. I know what you’re telling me, I trust what you’re telling me.” those things go a long way. Not just say, “well you tell me now, hope you feel better, move on.” That’s not the case. You need to verbalize your support and you need to say that in such a way and show them in your actions as well. And of course, encourage them to seek professional help however, that may take some time. Don’t force it. Just let them know. Help them find the sources and provide that for them and give them the space to decide when they’re ready to seek that professional help.”

Ysaguirre added that Belize has a network of private counselors that offer trauma-informed care and other therapy services and that shoe services can be obtained through the Community Rehab Department free of charge. She assured that counseling staff are held to the highest standards regarding confidentiality and encouraged anyone dealing with sexual violence to seek professional help. A list of counselors and general resources available to Belizeans can be found at mindhealthconnectbelize.com. 

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