Child abuse can have a profound and lasting impact on a person’s life, affecting their mental and emotional well-being. Regardless of the type of abuse — physical, emotional, or sexual — adult survivors of child abuse often struggle to trust others, including family members, friends, and romantic partners, making it difficult to form healthy relationships and lead a fulfilling life. Support and guidance can make it possible to learn to trust again after child abuse.
Trust is an essential component of healthy relationships. It allows us to feel safe and secure in the presence of others and to open ourselves up emotionally. Trust can be difficult to regain for survivors of child abuse. They may feel they cannot trust their judgment and may have trouble trusting their feelings and thoughts.
Healing From Child Abuse Is Possible
It’s important to remember that healing from child abuse and learning to trust again is possible. However, the process is different for every person and does not happen overnight. Also important to note is that healing is nonlinear– there will be ups and downs, and setbacks are normal.
One of the most effective ways to begin rebuilding trust is through therapy. A therapist trained to work with survivors of child abuse is sensitive to their unique needs and can provide a safe and supportive environment for processing feelings. Therapy can also help survivors understand how past experiences have affected current relationships, and how to develop new coping mechanisms. There are many types of therapy available.
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT has shown to be effective in treating the effects of child abuse and learning to trust again. This talk therapy focuses on changing negative thought patterns and behaviors. It can help survivors of child abuse recognize and challenge negative thoughts or beliefs about themselves and others.
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
EMDR uses eye movements or other forms of bilateral stimulation to help patients process traumatic memories and reduce their emotional intensity. EMDR involves recalling traumatic memories under the supportive guidance of a therapist.
- Support Groups
These groups provide a safe and supportive environment where individuals can talk about, and learn from others’, adverse experiences. Support groups can also help survivors to feel less alone and more understood. EndCAN’s survivor community support group, Louder Than Silence, through Inspire, is a free, online community where people can feel safe, be authentic while anonymously sharing their experiences, and learn from others who have “been there.”
Self-compassion— treating yourself with the same kindness, concern, and understanding you would to a friend — recognizes that suffering is a part of the human experience and is not a sign of personal weakness. This can help child abuse victims develop a more positive and compassionate view of themselves, leading to building trust in others.
Some survivors may find that therapy is the best way for them to work through their feelings and learn to trust again. Others may prefer participating in support groups or talking to friends or family members about their experiences. Others may find a combination works best.
Help Us End Child Abuse and Neglect
You don’t have to suffer in silence. If you’re an adult child abuse survivor, EndCAN is here for you with valuable resources, including information and tips about parenting and support to help you learn and heal.