Sexual Trauma and Abuse

Inpatient sexual abuse and trauma treatment.

sexual abuse and trauma treatment

The effects of sexual abuse can be profound and devastating. The trauma can impact on you in emotional, psychological and sometimes physical ways, and can affect your ability to sustain relationships with family and friends. Survivors of sexual abuse often experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), addiction, depression, anxiety and feelings of guilt and shame.

It’s important to remember that abuse is motivated by the desire to humiliate, harm or control others and that it impacts not just on you as a survivor but across the spectrum of your relationships with partners, family and friends.

You need a safe and, above-all, non-judgemental space in which to feel nurtured and to begin the journey towards wellbeing. The Harley St creates an environment where we can give you the support you need in order to begin the process of healing.

The Harley St Model is based on the development of a highly personalised treatment plan. We believe in a holistic and integrated approach to trauma because we recognise that there is no one size fits all therapy, since each individual’s experience of trauma is profoundly personal. Therefore we combine a range of therapies including EMDR, art and equine therapies, acupuncture and Somatic Experience with individual and group counselling in a way that is specific to your individual lived experience.

EMDR facilitates the accessing and processing of traumatic experiences, where you have processed the trauma on a sensory, rather than a fully conscious, level. EMDR helps to relieve distress and overcome negative thinking by allowing the brain to heal itself.

Somatic therapy integrates psychotherapy and body psychotherapy to address all aspects of the impact of trauma on thinking, emotions and bodily sensations to relegate the experience of trauma to the past where it belongs. Based on the principle ‘the body remembers’, it uses your physicality as a tool to regulate pain and treat trauma.

At Harley St Organisation, by integrating our therapeutic approach with the natural world, we have created an environment of kindness, trust and empathy in which you can begin the process of healing after trauma.

What is sexual trauma?

Sexual trauma is understood to mean one or more sexual violations that cause the individual significant distress, though some individuals are unwilling to label their experience as trauma because of a connection to the perpetrator or the lack of force involved.

It’s almost impossible to define sexual trauma as the experience is unique to the individual. The common perception is that sexual trauma is linked to violence, but the majority of sexual assaults use coercive behaviour to threaten the individual with harm or embarrassment, or to normalise behaviour that the individual knows to be profoundly abnormal.

Sexual trauma becomes perceived as ‘traumatic’ when you feel threatened, fearful or helpless because of the actions of the perpetrator. The trauma lies in the unwanted emotional, physical or psychological effects that you may experience afterwards.

Signs of sexual trauma

It’s important to remember that, as each incident of sexual trauma is perceived individually, there is no standard response to sexual trauma and assault. Your individual response will differ depending on your personal circumstances – for some people, the response is immediate, for others there is a delayed reaction. It’s important that you remember there is no one pattern of response, and that what you are experiencing is not your fault.

By engaging with the Harley St Method you are taking your first important steps towards the self-care that is vital for your wellbeing.

Link to alcoholism, drug addiction and depression

Coping with the effects of sexual abuse can seem overwhelming and research studies have shown a strong correlation between sexual trauma and addictive behaviour, depression and PTSD. Statistics show that survivors are three times more likely to suffer from depression and six times more likely to experience PTSD. Figures for alcohol and drug abuse are considerably higher.

Common effects of sexual trauma

Short term (acute) effects

If you’ve survived sexual abuse, you may commonly experience feelings of shame and guilt. You may feel that your sense of trust in others and your safety in your environment have been violated. You may even go through a process of denial, claiming the trauma was not that bad or minimise its impact. You may find it difficult to establish boundaries or to trust anyone, including your partner, family and friends.

Isolation is a common problem for survivors of emotional trauma. You may feel undeserving of love and support, even from your partner, or you may simply wish to avoid being judged by your family and community.


Coping with the effects of sexual trauma can seem overwhelming, and you may be using substances as a coping mechanism to take back the control of your body and your environment that you feel has been taken from you. Research suggests that if you’ve experienced sexual trauma, you are 26 times more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol. According to the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress, up to 90% of patients with addiction issues have a known history of abuse.


When you feel you’ve lost control of your body, or that control has been taken away from you, the effects can be debilitating and range from mild and fleeting depression to Major Depressive Disorder. Symptoms can include feelings of hopelessness and distress, unexplained crying, sleeplessness, loss of appetite and interest in the world around you. You may feel damaged and experience a profound loss of self-esteem.


Your feelings of fear and distrust in your environment may manifest themselves as panic attacks and anxiety. These disabling feelings may co-occur with Acute Stress Disorder (ASD). You may experience repeated and troubling dreams, intrusive and distressing memories and the inability to think or feel positively about your current situation.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Unlike ASD which is a transitory reaction, PTSD can be a profound and disabling reaction to sexual trauma. In one study, 94% of women who had experienced sexual trauma had symptoms of PTSD in the period immediately following the trauma, and one in three survivors experienced at least one episode of PTSD during their lives.

If you are experiencing PTSD, you will typically experience clusters of symptoms including:

• Intrusive thoughts, nightmares and memories about the trauma

• Avoidance of thoughts, feelings and situations that you associate with the abuse

• Extreme negativity about yourself and your environment

• Sleeplessness, irritability, reckless behaviour


You may feel as if you are simply an observer in your own life. You feel a sense of numbness or disassociation from your own body. This feeling that you’ve somehow ‘checked out’ may manifest itself as simple daydreaming and a sense that the world around you is unreal, but it may also seriously impact on how you live your life, do your job and associate with those around you.

Eating Disorders

If you’ve experienced childhood trauma, you’re 5% more likely to develop an eating disorder like bulimia or anorexia, according to an Australian study. Eating disorders can develop as a means of self-defence where purging or denial is used as a way to refocus or cleanse oneself of the trauma.

Triggers and flashbacks

Flashbacks can be an extremely frightening and distressing experience both for you and for those around you. A flashback is an extreme way of re-experiencing the abuse and may be triggered by an event, place or even a smell that you associate with the initial sexual trauma. Flashbacks are one of the most common experiences for survivors of sexual trauma and experiencing a flashback is entirely normal.

• Remind yourself that you have overcome the worst of your trauma

• Ground yourself by making physical contact with your environment

• Breathe deeply to decrease feelings of panic

• Use your five senses to re-establish your presence in the here and now

• Talk to your inner child and reassure them you’re both OK

• Reach out and get help from an experienced and empathetic therapist

At Harley St Organisation we can help you deal with the impact of sexual trauma and provide the safe boundaries and support you need to begin the healing process.

For families

At Harley St Organisation, your loved one will be in safe hands. As an inpatient residential facility specialising in trauma, we have the skills and expertise to deal with PTSD and other co-occurring symptoms as a result of sexual trauma. We understand the impact of sexual trauma on your family and relationships, particularly on intimacy. And we understand that it’s important for you as a partner to protect your own boundaries. Harley St Organisation is the first step on the journey towards wellness not just for you, but for you and your family.

At Harley St Organisation we understand your feelings of anger and helplessness and the responsibility you have for your loved one. We understand how difficult this decision will have been for you as a family, and we will provide the care, safety and protection that your loved one needs as they move towards wellbeing.

To learn more about our inpatient residential treatment program, please go to How We Treat.

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Other Treatments

Alcohol Addiction FAQ's

We offer locations for alcohol rehab centres nationwide, call our team on 0333 444 0434. They will be able to advise you on treatment options available in your area.

This all depends on your personal circumstances. We ask that you contact our team on 0333 444 0434 so that we can fully understand your situation and needs.

We’ll talk you through a short telephone questionnaire designed to help us provide you with the best possible care.

We then set a date and time for your admission and you can look forward to a new start in life.

Absolutely yes, so many people are not even aware they have a mental health problem and many people don’t make the connection in children and mental health. The alcohol can become a ‘solution’ for a persons mental health. At the start it will seem as if the alcohol is quieting the mind, but in time as the addiction progresses it will only add to any mental health problems the person has. It is also difficult to diagnose a person with mental health while under the influence of alcohol.

As well as being directly related to many serious diseases, drinking large amounts of alcohol can also lead to poor sexual performance, and it can harm an unborn baby. If you have an alcohol related problem, there are many ways in which you can get help to reduce your drinking, and there are also many services that you can use that will help you stop altogether. Definition The problems associated with alcoholism, or alcohol dependence, are wide ranging, and can be physical, psychological, and social.

There is no definitive cure for addiction. However, rehab can provide patients with the skills needed to successfully manage their addiction and remain sober. Recovery from addiction is never over and patients will need to work on their ability to avoid relapse for the rest of their lives. A high quality addiction rehab programme sets patients up for this process.

Most people can enjoy a casual night out with friends, have one or two drinks and then stop, and they might not drink again for several days. They enjoy a drink, but they don’t NEED it.

If you feel that you would like to talk to one of our experts and see how we can help you, call us on 0333 444 0434.