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   Guidelines For
   Sexual Abuse Counseling

"He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love." --- (SofS 2:4)
Travis Case, Pastor/Teacher          Northgate Baptist Church          F.E.A.S.T Ministries


A. Always make your first response Sympathetic to the victim's feelings:

"That must have felt bad."

"I'm sorry that happened to you."

B. Do not request further information without First Responding Empathically to the disclosure.

C. Do not say anything positive or understanding About The Perpetrator.

D. Never ask: "Are You Sure?"

E. Never change the subject --- do not take this opportunity to disclose Your Own abuse issues.

F. When you don't know what to do or say, ask: "What Do You Need From Me?"

G. Don't get into Your Own Feelings.

H. Stick With The Topic of the abuse until the person gives a clear indication she/he wants to stop talking. If in doubt, ask: "Do you want to stop talking about this?"

I. Do Not Hug or in any approach the person physically.

1. If you feel it may be appropriate to hug or pat the person, ask permission first.

2. Remember the person may not be able to say "no" even if they don't want to be touched.

I. Counselor Should Offer Reassurances That:

A. Victim is Believed and Not Blamed.

B. Responsibility for incest belongs to the Offender.

C. Victim did the Best They Could have done (under the circumstances) to survive the circumstance.

D. As a Child, the victim was Not In Control of the situation.

Note from June Garner (Teacher) --- The child is twice a victim - one with the offender - and then they are usually removed from the home which has been their security. Many children are threatened with this - you tell and you will not see your mom again.

E. Details of the counseling will remain Confidential.

F. Victim is a "Survivor" and can recover from Victimization.

G. Victim can get over feelings of Shame.

H. Counselor's feelings toward the victim Will Not Change as a result of hearing about the incest.

II. Counselor Should Offer Encouragement And Validation That:

A. Victim may Temporarily Feel Worse about disclosure before they start to feel better.

B. Victim has a right to feel Anger and Grief.

C. Victim has a right to have Positive Feelings Toward the Offender.

D. Victim did Not Deserve the abuse.

E. Victim Is Making Gains despite how small the gains seem to be sometimes.

F. Victim is Important and Intelligent.

G. Victim's Coping Mechanism is seen as "Survivor Skill" and adaptive.

III. Counselor Should Elicit Disclosure By:

A. Asking Directly if sexual abuse occurred during childhood.

B. Using a Structured questionnaire such as an intake form to receive a complete early sexual history.

C. Mentioning that the Symptoms victim is describing have been related to a history of sexual abuse in others.

D. Defining Incest to victim.

E. Asking about Best and Worst Experiences during Childhood.

F. Being Persistent In Probing sexual abuse histories.

IV. Once Disclosure Takes Place, Counselor Should:

A. Identify Sexual Abuse As Primary Cause of the victim's difficulties.

B. Acknowledge and validate significance of Sexual Abuse.

C. Relate specific Difficulties In Adult Life to coping skills developed to survive Sexual Abuse.

D. Not Minimize Sexual Abuse even if it occurred infrequently.

E. Encourage victim not to "dwell" on the Sexual Abuse.

F. Be fully aware of Their Own Reactions to hearing about incest.

V. Age-Related Signs of Sexual Abuse:

AGES 0-3

A. Signs of physical injury.

B. Signs of physical illness, especially to genital or urinary systems.

C. Unusual fussiness.

D. Refuses his/her favorite food.

E. Becomes extremely shy.

F. Exhibits a sudden or unusual fear of strangers.

G. Shows a lack of enjoyment of his/her favorite play things.

H. Clings to parents as if fearful.

I. Experiences great difficulty getting to sleep.

J. Exhibits extreme fear of being left alone.

K. Suffers from frightening dreams.

L. Regresses to an earlier pattern of behavior.

M. Regression of skills.

N. Experiences a loss of his/her sense of security.

O. Becomes unable to adjust to his/her normal schedule.

P. Manifest any change from normal behavior pattern.

Q. Feeling ugly.

R. Very concrete symptoms --- hitting self in eye.

S. Difficulty cuddling.

T. Seeking attention from any adult.

AGES 4-12

A, A sign of physical injury.

B. Signs of physical illness, with a variety of symptoms from recurrent headaches, upset stomachs or urinary tract infections.

C. Exhibits sudden shyness.

D. Suffers from frightening dreams.

E. Experiences great difficulty getting to sleep.

F. Refuses his/her favorite foods.

G. Suffers from depression.

H. Exhibits some loss of memory.

I. Worries excessively, interrupting his/her normal life pattern.

J. Exhibits a change in his/her scholastic achievement.

K. Exhibits a fear of specific adults.

L. Has a sudden and unwarranted fear of the dark.

M. Exhibits extreme fear of being alone.

N. Shows a regression in patterns of behavior or skills.

O. Exhibits a change in school relationships, including possible fighting and the sudden inability to adjust.

P. Shows a lack of enjoyment of his/her favorite TV shows, movies, games, or other activities.

Q. Seems easily distracted as though his/her mind is wandering.

R. Manifests a change in his/her normal attitude.

S. Manifests a change in his/her pattern of normal behavior.

T. Acts out in a sexual manner, appearing more knowledgeable about sex than his/her peers.

U. Develops a pseudo-mature character, taking over specific parental responsibilities in the home (a sign predominantly associated with incest).

V. Bedwetting.

W. Excessive Masturbation.

X. Approaching strangers for affection.

Z. Dependency issues.

AA. School phobia.

BB. Excessive lying or manipulation.

CC. Use of advanced sexual language.

DD. Cruelty or excessive concern for animals.

EE. Fear or aversion to sports.

FF. Phobia.

GG. Emotional lability.

HH. Recurrent nightmares.

II. Lack of joy.

JJ. Shame.

KK. Excessive or total lack of interest in dating.

LL Excessive drug or alcohol use.

MM. Self-injury.

NN. Eating disorders.

OO. Problems with boundaries:

1. Difficulty saying "no".

2. Problems with closed doors.

3. Excessive modesty or nudity.

PP. Intrusive behavior with siblings, parents, or friends.

QQ. Blocked feelings or memories.

RR. Rejection issues are primary.

SS. Early sexual acting out.

Additions From June Garner (Teacher) - 1. Very offensive body odor., 2. Sit with sweater or coat over head in class room., 3. Very protective of other brothers and sisters that are in school. Wants to check on them constantly.

AGES 13-19:

A. Manifests signs of physical injury.

B. Manifests signs of physical illness, headache, stomach cramps, urinary tract infections.

C. Suddenly refuses food.

D. Suffers from sudden and violent dreams.

E. Manifests difficulty in getting to sleep.

F. Seems in depths of depression.

G. Exhibits an inability to concentrate.

H. Shows irritability or manifests angry outbursts toward others.

I. Exhibits a sudden and unwarranted fear of the dark.

J. Has a sudden lapse of enjoyment of dating.

K. Feels an unexplainable fear of being left alone.

L. Worries excessively, interrupting his/her normal life patterns.

M. Experiences a loss of memory.

N. Exhibits fear of specific adults.

O. Exhibits a change in his/her level of scholastic achievement.

P. Acts out the sexual encounter with siblings or friends.

Q. Experiences a lack of enjoyment of his/her favorite activities.

R. Makes an attempt to run away from home.

S. Contemplates suicide.

T. Appears passive or overly compliant in behavior.

U. Behaves seductively with the opposite sex.

V. Manifests a deviation from his/her normal patterns or attitudes.

W. Lack of interest in dating.

X. Promiscuity.

Y. Excessive drug/alcohol use.

Z. Self-injury.

AA. Eating disorder (too much, too little, obsession).

BB. Problems with boundaries:

1. Saying "no" to friends.

2. Closing doors.

3. Excessive modesty/nudity.

4. Being intrusive with friends, parents, siblings.

CC. Blocked memories/feelings.

DD. Lack of joy.

EE. Shame.

FF. Rejection issues are primary.

GG. Dependency issues.

HH. Truancy.

II. Early marriage --- early pregnancy --- early sexual experience.

JJ. Lying and manipulation.

KK. Cruelty to animals or excessive concern for animals.

LL. Excessive masturbation.

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