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Sexual abuse victims need counselling

SHIKANDA Kawanga.

Analysis: SHIKANDA KAWANGA
EVER wondered why a sexually-abused person will shed tears whenever they remember and talk about the horrific experience regardless of how much time has passed since the experience?

The pain seen in the eyes of an abused victim reflects how pierced their heart is, from an experience that might have lasted a few minutes.
Sexual abuse teaches victims that their bodies are not really their own. Victims often report feelings such as shame, grief, anger, confusion, terror, helplessness, depression, and guilt, and may sometimes blame themselves for the assault.
However, the need for proper counselling of such people is cardinal though currently nothing much is being done in that regard because much focus is on punishing the perpetrator.
It’s good to punish the perpetrator but what about the victim who will have to live with the trauma for the rest of their life because the nightmare does not end when the actual abuse ends. Some victims continue to suffer psychological trauma.
This is a call to civil society organisations and all relevant stakeholders to improve their counselling skills especially in Psychosocial Support (PSS).
PSS is a set of interventions used to meet a person’s emotional, social, mental and spiritual needs. PSS is very important for the healthy development of all children and critical for orphaned and vulnerable children (OVC) including adults.
Immediate crisis assistance after sexual assault can prove invaluable and even save lives, but therapy can also be helpful for those who experienced sexual abuse in the past. Addressing the trauma of sexual assault and long-term assistance may be beneficial to some survivors of sexual abuse.
It is worth noting that the first step towards any kind of healing is first admitting that one needs help.
More importantly, seeking help can free victims and their families.
Everyone can then begin to heal, move forward and have a chance to enjoy happier lives in the future.
The counsellor’s role is to help the victim and their families by taking them through the healing process one step at a time. With time, the whole experience will be easier to handle and become less frightening.
These emotions need to be dealt with, otherwise, victims may face problems or symptoms they don’t understand.
Victims and their families need to come to terms with strong opposing emotions experienced during the abuse and after it has ended.
A child can find it hard to overcome the anger, the feeling of guilt, the blame and the feeling of helplessness.
Even adults find these conflicting feelings extremely confusing.
Imagine how much harder it is for children to handle guilt and broken trust.
Counselling is a critical intervention that can have positive benefit for survivors-including higher physical functioning, lower levels of depression, higher self-esteem and assertiveness, and even decreased exposure to abuse.
But the best remedy is to protect people from possible rape or defilement considering the long term devastating effects that the vice has.
One of the best ways to get away from that danger as quick as possible and run away screaming for help but there is need to take certain precautions such as avoiding risk areas such as dark places, dimly lit areas, lonely places, bushy areas, short-cuts, being alone in a room with a man other than your husband.
Another important precaution is to never trust men hundred percent unless he is your husband. Rapists don’t have outward signs, they could be strangers or people you know very well. Take care during dates or parties and make sure that the venue is a public place; also have an interest to know how drinks or food are served.
Even the dress code is important when at home, school, place of work or anywhere else. Make sure not to wear clothes which attract too much negative attention from men/ boys.
Being alert is also cardinal because some rapists are cunning and may grab you, knock you down, tear your clothes or even use drugs.
It’s also good practice, especially when it’s late, to walk in the company of known friends, work-mates or schoolmates, in case rapists strike it is easy to raise alarm and get help when you are many.
And parents must avoid giving children errands outside the home and also avoid leaving them with male strangers or distant relatives you are not sure of.
Parents must avoid buying daughters sweet things like sweets, and biscuits because they can get used to it so much that if they fail to get in future, they could easily be tempted to accept them from strangers who can use it to lure and defile them.
Even though it is every parents dream to spoil their children, there is need to reduce leisure life for daughters. It must be occasional, should they be used to it and fail to get it in future, they could be tempted to accept money or services from any man or boy and it could be a trap to rape them one day.
The author is Livingstone-based Zambia Daily Mail correspondent.

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