Some adult survivors of child sexual abuse have kept their abuse secret their whole lives. As children, many had no trusted adult to protect them or to confide in. If they did tell of their abuse, many victims were not believed, or even punished.
It’s often then a big step for abuse survivors to talk to a counsellor about their abuse. Sex abuse counselling can’t erase the painful memories of childhood assault, but it can play a powerful role in helping survivors to recover from their experiences and lead happy and meaningful lives.
When you are ready to speak to a counsellor, it is important to look for someone with professional qualifications in psychology, counselling or a similar professional field, preferably with experience in child sexual abuse cases. It’s equally crucial that you feel safe and comfortable with the professional you choose.
Many support services offer counselling and guidance to survivors of child sexual abuse free of charge. Some services can offer only short-term care, but are able to direct child abuse survivors to longer-term care options.
Medicare covers some of the cost of private counselling sessions, but only provides rebates for 10 sessions with a counsellor or psychologist. This restriction has come in for criticism at the Royal Commission, with the head the Australian Psychological Society calling on the Federal Government to expand the system to provide better support to child sexual abuse victims.
In NSW, Victims Services provides victims of crime with 22 hours of counselling free of charge. However, cases involving child sexual abuse are often considered exceptional and may be eligible for unlimited counselling sessions. Survivors can apply online and be put in touch with an approved counsellor within a few days. Victims services have approved counsellors all over Australia.
The costs of ongoing counselling can often be negotiated as part of compensation packages.