#139 – Episode 139 – Dealing with Sexual Trauma


**Trigger warning** Chip and Veronica discuss a very sensitive topic.

Many clients who suffer from an alcohol use disorder have also experienced some kind of sexual abuse or sexual assault. In this episode, Chip and Veronica explore how that affects people and how telling our stories can help us heal and overcome this devastating trauma.

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What This Episode Is About

[Trigger warning: sexual abuse & sexual assault]

Today we’re talking about sexual abuse and sexual assault. It’s a subject that, unfortunately, many of our clients have struggled with and it doesn’t get talked about much.

This is an incredibly sensitive topic and can be very triggering so you might prefer not to listen to this episode in one go, but instead approach it in chunks. Also, think about what you’re going to do after you’ve listened to this, whether that might be going to a support meeting or identifying someone you can call or be with.

Please take care of yourself and support yourself.

Over 60% of the people we’ve worked with who’ve had alcohol dependency, have also experienced some kind of sexual abuse or assault in their past. In fact, it’s often at the very heart of their addiction.

In this episode, we’re talking about sexual abuse from Chip’s perspective as a survivor and my perspective both as a therapist who’s worked with many people who’ve experienced this and my own experience with milder sexual trauma.

They have a sense that people know but nobody’s protecting them. So it’s a very difficult thing. – Chip Somers

From childhood sexual abuse to rape or sexual assault as an adult, there’s a cultural response that’s geared towards the victim being either fully or somewhat responsible.

For Chip, despite being only six years old when the abuse started, he internalized his reactions to and the recurring nature of the incidents to mean that he was somehow a participant and had allowed it to happen. Without anyone to confide in, he took that heavy burden of shame and kept the truth hidden for many years into adulthood.

Then there are other situations where instead of an ongoing or grooming situation, there’s a violent and unexpected sexual assault. For many people who’ve experienced this, it goes unreported. Considering the low conviction rate of rape cases around the world, it’s no wonder why they don’t speak up.

The biggest message I want to get through about this is that if you’ve ever had any experiences like these and have even a kernel of thought that this was your fault or that you had some part in it, we want to be very clear that absolutely none of this is your fault or responsibility.

You had zero part in it.

It’s not okay to have your boundaries crossed.

It’s not okay to be taken advantage of.

It’s not okay to be lured into something that you don’t want to do.

After years of doing the work and lots of therapy, Chip’s message is one of encouragement.

He wants you to know that if you identify with these experiences at all, it’s worth it to do the work on dealing with it because the weight on your psyche is huge and it just fuels addictive behaviour.

At the same time, be cautious. It can be tempting to think that once you’re in recovery, it’s the time to square away everything else too. But if you’re not ready for it, you can really set yourself back.

When you feel you’re ready to go into it find someone appropriate to talk about it with and really deal with it. Know that there are different approaches and modalities that therapists can use to help you and the most important thing is to find someone who you can talk to.

Sometimes it’s not until you put a weight down, that you realize how heavy it has been. – Chip Somers

You may be reading this, knowing that you’ve gone through these experiences but it may be something you’ve carried around that is still a secret. We want you to know that you’re not alone and that this is sadly very, very common. It is 100% not your fault.

Whatever happened to you, it counts. You matter and what happened to you matters. Alcohol and drugs are not the way to deal with this, there is a pathway to healing.

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