Art Therapy and Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse is taboo in many cultures and due to the nature of the abuse, it is not often reported. Abuse victims are at risk of becoming offenders themselves, giving reason to address the trauma related to sexual abuse as early as possible to prevent this vicious cycle. “Estimates of prevalence from the most rigorous epidemiological studies suggest that one in four females and one in six males will be sexually abused by the age of 18” (E1) These unnerving statistics have given psychologists and therapists alike, a reason to research the potential role alternative play therapies such as art making, dance, music, and laughter. These alternatives to traditional talking therapy could play in helping victims and their families in the healing process. To bring the trauma and lasting symptoms of sexual abuse into a wider context, treatment options will be reviewed that can easily be applied to multiple genders, races, ages, and cultures. An overall understanding and broader knowledge of the trauma and the necessary step towards healing could allow therapists to more efficiently help a victim and their family.
The adverse effects of childhood sexual abuse can include but are not limited to; depression, anger, posttraumatic stress, and social isolation. However, the abused child is not always the only family member affected by the trauma. “The initial reaction of a nonoffending caregiver may be one of shock, denial, confusion, or emotional numbing, all of which may serve to incapacitate caregivers and prevent them from being emotionally available to the child” (F1) The idea of applying the alternative approaches to treating the symptoms in the child and family members appears effective. “Vitality and playfulness seem to be central to the effectiveness of dance therapy, because they help to counterbalance some of the more painful and difficult aspects of the therapeutic work.” (B13) A child who is sexually abused has...