Sexual Trauma Destructive Coping Strategies
Studies report that male victims of sexual abuse often use externalizing or internalizing coping strategies. You are probably asking yourself “What’s the difference?” Internalizing is considered emotional and expressive techniques. External copying strategies include aggression and antisocial behavior. These strategies can take on several forms
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(1) confrontive, where you handle the problems straight on; (2) emotive, in which emotions are used; and (3) palliative, any attempts to address problems are avoided. Unfortunately, many male survivors chose palliative. Interestingly some findings report that the trauma of sexual abuse is more distressful for males than females because we attempt to avoid our hidden truth.
MCSA in boys has been linked to increased maladaptive alcohol use. Substance abuse, alcohol being a prominent drug, often is chosen as the self-medicating liquid to help repress any memories of the abuse. By drinking we hope to cover our inability to trust others, to be vulnerable, to admit we feel powerless, have lost sense of identity, or admit gender identities issues
In life coaching over the internet or at the retreat, I often encounter survivors with anger directed inwardly for allowing the abuse to occur, for not protecting oneself which serves as a catalyst for feelings of isolation and powerlessness. Typically I observe four types of anger; (1) against self, (2) against caregiver (e.g., parents, guardian), (3) perpetrator, and (4) God for those with Christian religious beliefs. Interestingly, in faith-based communities, anger is not embraced, but frowned up. The divine directive to be angry when injustice and un- righteousness occur is ignored and dumb-down. This often complicates the issue of sexual abuse.
In my own personal qualitative study there also seems to be a relationship with abuse risky sexual practices for CSA survivors. Research studies also have confirmed. Many of the abused men report that heavy pornography use. Others report vicarious sexual escapades followed by heavy drinking to block out the pain of the abuse while alleviating the guilt of sleeping with multiple sex partners. The intoxicated state lends to risky sexual decision making. One participant stated, “It makes it easier to forget the damage you know are creating for yourself and other person.
On a piece of paper write down all the coping strategies you use or have used to deal with the CSA. Circle the ones that have been ef- fective and those that have been detrimental. How are you doing?