ASTOP is here to serve survivors of sexual abuse/assault. We care about you and understand how victims are affected by the trauma of sexual abuse. It takes a lot of courage for a survivor to make the call to ASTOP to say, “I would like to make an appointment to come to you for counseling.”
Most of the adults we counsel at ASTOP have never told anyone about what happened to them when they were children or teenagers. Or, if they did tell, they may not have been believed or were told it was there fault and from that time on they disconnected from their hurt, shame, fear, guilt, betrayal, and/or anger.
Holding these feelings in is like trying to keep a beach ball under water – it is exhausting. At some point, sometimes as much as 20 or 30 years later, survivors can no longer hold down these feelings. It may be a crisis that brings the feelings to the surface. It may be that something triggered the memory.
When the memory is triggered it often comes out as overwhelming emotions, perhaps uncontrollable anger or crying. That is because trauma is encoded in the brain as emotions, not words. However, each survivor is a unique individual, so your story may be different than another survivor’s story. Some victims disconnected so well from the abuse that they blocked all memories, and with the emotions released come a flood of detailed memories. Some people remember every detail but have spent years stuffing/denying/numbing the feelings.
We meet you where you are without judging your journey. You survived with the skills you developed to protect yourself. Unfortunately, those survival skills most often are not effective in relationships, and many survivors live in abusive relationships because they don’t believe they deserve to be treated any better. They may even think that if others really knew them, they wouldn’t like them.
At ASTOP, our counselors, Marilyn and Michelle, offer individual counseling and group therapy. We work hard to get grants and raise funds to cover the cost of our trauma-informed care, because we want every person who wants help to receive the help they need. We have also been able to get grants for Equine Experiential Learning, which we offer to teens, adults, and mother/daughter teams.
We offer many groups throughout the year. Marilyn and Michelle are currently planning to begin a new group for ASTOP clients in September on Mondays, possibly 5 – 7 pm. We will be using a workbook by Brene Brown on Shame. You are welcome to check out Brene Brown’s website to get more information on her research on shame, vulnerability, and belonging.