Interventions for Survivors of Traumatic Sexual Abuse

Interventions for Survivors of Traumatic Sexual Abuse

Beth’s traumatic sexual history can significantly impact her marriage. It takes a certain temperament to have long-term and consummate relationships with victims of sexual abuse (Devlin et al., 2019). If Don is not understanding, it would be a very unpleasant and possibly painful experience to be married to a rape or child abuse victim. Beth’s sexual trauma can lead to an emotional wreck on Don trying to live with the woman who is a victim of sexual abuse. Consequently, he may think that he is Beth’s emotional punch-bag for all her psychological trauma and issues. An issue like this, if they go unsolved, can lead to divorce or separation.

An intervention I would choose to help Don and Beth is couple therapy or counseling.  Realizing the effects of abuse trauma is not always manifested in obvious ways until an individual learns the signs and talks about why the signs come up. Many couples experience emotional impacts of sexual trauma on one partner due to lack of awareness or the inability to do anything about the trauma (Devlin et al., 2019). The purpose of therapy is to mix clinical expertise and empirical knowledge and apply it to a person like Beth. The therapist will let Don and Beth know what treatments they have that he thinks might help them and summarize how they could help them. He will also let them know that there will likely be some discomfort along the way. The therapist must provide them with all of the options they need to make an informed decision, but try to leave that decision.

An underlying theory for this intervention is attachment theory. Attachment theory postulates that an affectional bond is essential to ensure a healthy development (Ten Brink, 2021). People facing sexual trauma like Beth have a behavioral attachment system that maintains proximity to and elicits comfort to the people around them, leading to some sense of security. This theory can be used in counseling to help Beth secure a base that will help her maintain a balance between proximity-seeking behaviors and exploration. Through continuous interaction, she will learn how to adjust her behavior to intimacy and what to expect. Through an internal working model, Beth will see whether her husband is seen as trustable and available later in life and leads her to figure out whether she is worthy of love and support.





















Devlin, J. M., Hill, L., Berry, J., Felder, K., & Wilson, C. (2019). Therapeutic practices for sexually abused children and adolescents: Resources for marriage, family, and couples’ counselors. The Family Journal27(4), 359-365.

Ten Brink, S., Coppens, V., Huys, W., & Morrens, M. (2021). The psychology of kink: a survey study into the relationships of trauma and attachment style with BDSM interests. Sexuality Research and Social Policy18(1), 1-12.

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