Overcoming the Sexual Abuse of a Parent

“The following is taken from an interview I did with Jaleh Weber, a journalist at Yahoo.com. While I struggled with the idea that there are “tips” on how to overcome the sexual abuse of a parent I do agree with the message Jaleh wanted to convey.” -Mark Falango

Where you sexually abused by a parent and are unsure on how to go about in healing from the abuse? To help understand what type of impact sexual abuse of a parent can have on someone’s overall life and what you can do to overcome the sexual abuse you experienced from your parent, I have interviewed psychotherapist Mark Falango LCSW.

Tell me a little bit about yourself.

“I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Certified Sex Addiction Therapist with over 15 years experience treating victims of trauma in the Philadelphia area. I received my BFA from New York University and MSW from Columbia University. My post-graduate training includes work with the Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy in New York and the International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals.”

What type of impact can a sexual abuse of a parent have on someone’s overall life?

“Sexual abuse whether suffered by a parent, sibling or another individual can have a severe life long impact. It is one of the most significant traumas an individual can experience. Survivors of parental sexual abuse can suffer from a range of mood and personality disorders including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, borderline personality disorder, dissociative disorder and panic disorder. Many victims turn to addiction to self-destructively deal with the trauma. All addiction is rooted in trauma and shame. Sexual abuse leaves deep scars of shame lowering one’s self-worth thus triggering an addictive cycle to obliterate the pain.

One of the most significant bonds in life suffers the greatest betrayal. We all come into this world seeking a nurturing connection with our parents. As a child there is a blind trust that our parents with take care of us, look out for our best interests and protect us from harm. That trust is broken and betrayed when a parent sexually abuses a child. The parent has exploited the child’s innocence and love. The child is left with fear and deep uncertainty about his/her relationship to both parents. Often the other parent is aware of the abuse. The victim’s perception of safety is shattered. The lack of parental trust and safety sets the tone for many of the relationships the survivor may encounter in life. If left untreated parental sexual abuse can affect relationships with partners, children, friends, bosses and co-worker.”

What are come tips for overcoming the sexual abuse of a parent?

“The most important ‘tip’ is to get professional help from a qualified psychotherapist. Working with a therapist the survivor can explore the past trauma and how it affects his/her relationships today. One of the complexities of parental sexual trauma is that often the victim is still in an on-going, unhealthy relationship with the parent. He/she will need to work through maintaining healthy boundaries, avoiding manipulation and come to a resolution with the abusive parent. Many of my clients have also benefited from attending sexual trauma or post-traumatic stress support groups.”

What type of professional help is available for someone that is having a difficult time overcoming the sexual abuse of a parent?

“Psychotherapy with an experienced therapist trained in treating trauma is crucial to recovery. Many individuals also benefit from working with a psychiatrist to treat the symptoms of the various mood disorders one may suffer from with medication. Given that many survivors of abuse become addicts 12-step support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Sex Addicts Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous are immensely beneficial as is intensive outpatient or inpatient treatment.”

Thank you Mark for doing the interview on tips for overcoming sexual abuse from a parent. For more information on Mark Falango or his work you can check out his website at www.markfalango.com.