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Raising Awareness about Sexual Abuse During ‘Sexual Assault Awareness Month’

Addiction and Trauma Counseling and Help the Hurting

Every two minutes in the U.S., someone is sexually assaulted.

One in five women and one in 33 men will be the victim of rape or attempted rape in their lifetime, according to figures released by the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network in April for Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Many others are touched or molested and the resulting tentacles often have damaging effects on all areas of life.

Despite the alarming numbers, rapes remain vastly under-reported. The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that just a tenth of victims tell someone about their attack, due to feelings of fear, guilt and shame.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and I would like to raise your awareness and offer resources for those who have experienced the trauma of sexual assault. We seek to help men, women and children find freedom and hope after emotional, sexual and physical abuse and other types of trauma.

I’ve witnessed firsthand the devastating effects sexual assault can have on its victims and their families. For example, research shows that those who have experienced sexual assault are three times more likely to suffer from depression, four times more likely to contemplate suicide, six times more likely to suffer post-traumatic stress disorder, 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol and 26 times more likely to abuse drugs.

Day after day, we try to help people who are struggling with the addiction of alcohol and drugs, but the first step after detox is the help them understand why they are turning to these addictions. In some cases, they are trying to bury a traumatic experience from the past—perhaps sexual assault, sexual abuse or rape. Through counseling, we hope and pray that these issues will safely surface and that our clients will be able to find freedom from that prison.

We work with men, women and children who are going through even more trauma because they were sexually assaulted or abused by an acquaintance or even a loved one. The truth is that the majority of sexual assaults and rapes don’t occur in a dark alley with a stranger as the perpetrator. Sixty to seventy percent of rapes are committed by someone the victim knows, such as a co-worker, date, step-parent or step-sibling, or other family member. And the counseling that goes along with the abuse must also take into account the betrayal a person feels when trust has been broken in a very traumatic way.

Only God’s love can reach deep enough to truly heal the trauma, show value and purpose to the rejected, and model forgiveness to get past the fear and anger they have for the perpetrator. Using God’s lenses, the sexual abuse victim can look at these traumatic events more clearly and see themselves as victors rather victims. It is important for the sexual abuse victim to feel comfortable and trust someone to come into their life and navigate them through the healing process. An experienced Christian therapist can bring the psychological skills and spiritual truth and power to facilitate God’s lasting healing process for any trauma victim.

karl-benzio-1Dr. Karl Benzio MD, Christian Psychiatrist, writer, speaker, media guest expert, social issue activist, and the founder and clinical director of Lighthouse Network. Benzio brings scientific expertise and biblical principles together to examine common daily struggles and help people successfully navigate life’s storms. His experiences include teaching pastors, ministry leaders and students about counseling, leadership, parenting, marriage, and conflict resolution skills in traumatized areas like Uganda, Kenya and post-Hussein Iraq. He is currently a member of Focus on the Family’s Physicians Resource Council, the Pennsylvania Director of the American Academy of Medical Ethics, and serves on many other social policy task forces. His specialties include adolescents, addictions, decision-making and infusing spirituality into treatment. Benzio shares psycho-spiritual insights via his Stepping Stones daily devotional, on his one-minute daily radio feature “Life Change with Dr. Karl,” on 425 Christian radio stations and on iDisciple.org.

Email: KBenzio@LighthouseNetwork.org

Twitter: @drkarlb