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CSA SURVIVOR RESOURCES: HEALING, SUPPORT GROUPS & STORIES




As a child sexual abuse (CSA) survivor, I know how detrimental the impacts of this type of trauma can be on individuals, families, and communities. Healing resources, community support, and the opportunity for CSA survivors to share our stories are all imperative to the recovery process. Better understanding our own experiences and those of others can help us to process the pain of the past and open a future of health and happiness. I hope that the information gathered below will support survivors in letting go of shame after CSA so that they can find hope and healing. 


You can read about my CSA survivor experience in People Magazine, watch my TedX, or join the pre-order notification list by clicking the button below.




What is a CSA survivor?


CSA is an acronym for child sexual abuse. A CSA survivor is anyone who has experienced coerced and unwanted sexual contact under the age of 18. CSA can include a number of sexual acts including the exposure of private parts, groping, oral sex, insertion of objects or body parts, rape, sodomy, and the exhibition or production of child abuse material (CSAM). 


The consequences of CSA depend on a number of factors including, but not limited to: the relationship of the person who harmed the survivor, how frequently the abuse occurred, the sexual acts used to abuse, and the ages when the abuse started and ended. People who harm can include adults and/or other children. They can be strangers, trusted members of the community, or family members. Unwanted sexual experiences during childhood, no matter how serial or severe, can have lifelong detrimental impacts on CSA survivors. As a survivor myself, I know this all too well.


The difference between a CSA victim and CSA survivor


Child sexual abuse language varies depending on the individual and organization. Some people who have experienced child sexual abuse identify as CSA victims. They want to claim their truth that another person chose to exploit them when they were most vulnerable. Others call themselves CSA survivors as an act of empowerment. They survived exploitation and harm and want to be identified through their resilience and courage. Others will claim both identities, naming that they were once victims of CSA and are now survivors. While many will refer to victims as those currently experiencing abuse, then switch the identity to survivor after the abuse has stopped. CSA survivors can decide on their preferred language then invite others to call them by their chosen identity or identities. For this piece, I will use “CSA survivor” when I describe those who have experienced child sexual abuse in the past, but are no longer being harmed.


Symptoms for CSA survivors

There are a number of ways that CSA survivors hold the pain and consequences of their experiences throughout their life. From mental health challenges to chronic pain, secrecy to shame, self-harm to sexual challenges, CSA survivors may struggle with their relationships with themselves. They may also find trust and relationship building and sustainability difficult. Economic stability may be a challenge as they try to heal from the past in an expensive medical system, as well as build the future simultaneously. Due to stigma from society, social support and resources can also take time to find. Healing is possible. It begins by disclosing what happened to safe and trusted individuals.


Disclosure for CSA survivors


I, like so many other CSA survivors, waited to disclose the sexual abuse well into adulthood. Unfortunately, most survivors never disclose. It’s estimated that 86% of CSA survivors never report what happened to law enforcement. Those who do often delay doing so until the average age of 52. This is understandable as so many people and professionals are underprepared to support CSA survivors through the disclosure and recovery processes. Social silence and ignorance around the issue forces CSA survivors to stay silent to protect themselves. However, there are a number of individuals and organizations passionate about preventing child sexual abuse and supporting CSA survivors.


CSA survivor recovery resources


Throughout my own healing journey, I found a number of people and professionals to hold space for me to process the pain of the past. With their help, I was able to reshape how I understood the event, release the lie that I was in any way responsible for what happened, and experience healing modalities that soothed the physical and psychological consequences. Here are a few trusted organizations that provide CSA survivor support resources:


Adult CSA survivor resources


  • The Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network: The largest anti-rape organization in the United States, RAINN provides a hotline, a directory of all of the rape crisis centers by location, as well as information to learn about the issue.  

  • Me.too Movement: Led by Tarana Burke, the founder of the #MeToo Movement, this organization offers resources for all sexual abuse survivors, especially those within Black and brown communities. 

  • 1 in 6: The mission of this organization is to support male sexual abuse or assault survivors live healthier, happier lives.

  • Anti-Violence Project: The Anti-Violence project focuses on ending violence and supporting survivors who are LGBTQIA+.

  • Sibling Sexual Abuse Resource Center: Working collaboratively with lived experience experts, SSARC centralizes the current knowledge, resources, literature, and services available to make them easily accessible for all.

  • Rape Crisis: Whether something sexual happened to you without your consent recently or in the past, Rape Crisis is here to help you think through your options and next steps.

Sibling sexual trauma resources


Many organizations that support CSA survivors have a strong focus on adult-on-child abuse. However, child-on-child abuse is also common. Due to the proximity and accessibility that siblings have to each other, sibling sexual trauma is thought to be the most common form of intrafamilial sexual abuse. Here are a few organizations that focus specifically on abuse between siblings.


Incest abuse resources

Organizations have often focused on people who harm outside the home. However, incest abuse, or sexual abuse in the family system, makes up 30-40% of reported child abuse cases. More and more individuals and organizations are specializing in the distinctive consequences of incest abuse, as well as creating resources to best support survivors.


CSA survivor support groups


One-on-one support may suit some survivors best, while group support will greatly benefit others. Here are a few trusted organizations that offer support groups for CSA survivors:


Places to share child sexual abuse stories


Sharing my CSA survivor story publicly helped me to heal. It connected me with other organizations and individuals passionate about CSA prevention and recovery. Suddenly, I knew I didn’t have to go through this alone. Sharing your CSA survivor story may help in your healing process. Here are a number of organizations where you can share your story.


Inspiring CSA survivor quotes


“You can recognize survivors of abuse by their courage. When silence is so very inviting, they step forward and share their truth so others know they aren't alone.” ― Jeanne McElvaney


"I can be changed by what happens to me, but I refuse to be reduced by it." — Maya Angelou


"There is no timestamp on trauma. There isn't a formula that you can insert yourself into to get from horror to healed. Be patient. Take up space. Let your journey be the balm." — Dawn Serra


"You're not a victim for sharing your story. You are a survivor setting the world on fire with your truth. And you never know who needs your light, your warmth, and raging courage." — Alex Elle


 "Our job is not to deny the story, but to defy the ending — to rise strong, recognize our story, and rumble with the truth until we get to a place where we think, 'Yes. This is what happened. This is my truth. And I will choose how this story ends.'" — Brené Brown, "Rising Strong"


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