Dr. Laura Berman
is most often associated with her work as a sex therapist and as the author of books like The Book of Love
. However, Dr. Berman has also worked extensively with child molesters and victims of sexual abuse. Dr. Berman says she's learned that even after the abuse ends, a survivor may struggle for decades. "It's not just the act itself," she says. "It's what happens to you after the act."
According to Dr. Berman, long-term effects of childhood sexual abuse may include:
- Poor body image because the body was the instrument used during the sexual abuse
- Feelings of shame, guilt, isolation, depression and low self-esteem
- Sexual confusion or promiscuity as a result of not dealing with the emotions and feelings surrounding the abuse
- Confusing rape or sexual abuse fantasies
- Eating disorders, obesity and anorexia
- Drug abuse and alcoholism
- Poor decision-making in relationships
- Difficulty with intimacy
- Self-destructive or even suicidal behavior
Dr. Berman stresses the importance of bringing the abuse to light and hopes victims will feel more comfortable coming forward. She also wants victims to know they are not alone and help is available. But most importantly, she says, they should know that "healing is definitely possible."