Psychological Help

Child sexual abuse has major impacts on survivors.

Effective psychological help for all survivors of abuse must be provided as an extra service by the NHS, particularly for those who were abused in state institutions such as Children's Homes, since the State took on parental responsibilities in their case, and then failed them in the worst possible way.

Therefore the Government should put forward new money to create psychological therapy for survivors of child sexual abuse.

The therapy provided must incorporate the best practice currently available. It must of course be founded on an approach designed to help the survivor to feel listened to and believed, to help build feelings of self confidence and self-worth; but it should also contain the most effective components of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and two other techniques which are effective in their specific problem, namely, Cutting the Ties and the Rewind Technique.

Cutting the Ties

This method was conceived and developed by Phyllis Krystal, "to help us to cut the ties that bind us to anyone or anything that acts as an authority and exerts control over us".

Child abusers exert control physically and psychologically over their victims. The image of the abuser often stays in the mind of the survivor, affecting their reactions to anyone who more or less resembles their abuser, so that for some, their relationship with all men will be coloured by their relationship with their male abuser. For others, relationship with male authority, or indeed any authority, will be affected. There is an emotionally charged association that kicks in at any point when the survivor is reminded, consciously or unconsciously, of their abuse.

The abuser had no right to do what they did at the time of the abuse; but they most certainly have no right to continue to dominate the whole life of their victim. This continuing psychological domination can be terminated.

Cutting the ties is a simple, non-traumatic and reliable way of neutralising the continuing psychological power of the abuser.

It involves being taught a mental image of sitting opposite the abuser in a certain spatial arrangement. This is the most difficult part, since it means that the survivor has to consciously visualise a person that they desperately want to forget. It takes an effort of will, but this effort is made easier by imagining the abuser in some kind of visualised containment, such as a metal container or a strong prison cell. Here is a more detailed description.

The survivor practices the visualisation process for 5 minutes a day for two weeks (or 14 occasions).

The therapist then guides the survivor through a simple process that divides the connection between abuser and survivor. It removes the powerful psychological charge that is connected with their presence.

It is effective and brief. It took the writer, as a GP, about 20 minutes to teach the technique, and 30 minutes to complete the process.

A list of practitioners in the UK can be found here.

The Rewind Technique

This is a technique pioneered by the psychotherapist Joe Griffin to deal with specific traumatic incidents that lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Many survivors get the anxiety and flashbacks associated with memories of their abuse.

Used by a trusted therapist, the Rewind Technique offers a specific and effective solution to PTSD.

In a state of relaxation, the survivor is invited to recall the traumatising event, first as a distant, arms-length recollection, run first backwards in time, then forwards in time. After each run, the survivor relaxes in a safe mental space. The memory is gradually brought closer (as in the classic desensitisation approach to anxiogenic stimuli) until it can be recalled without its attendant anxiety.

Like Cutting the Ties, the Rewind Technique is effective and brief in the treatment of PTSD.

Of course, neither of these techniques are magic bullets that abolish the mental pain inflicted by abuse in a single sitting, but used in conjunction with conventional psychological support, they can offer significant improvement to the life of survivors.

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