Dr. Taji Huang, based in Glendale, CA, specializes in addressing the aftermath of ritual sexual abuse, a deeply distressing and sensitive topic that leaves survivors with profound psychological scars. With her compassionate and expert approach, Dr. Huang helps survivors navigate the challenging journey of healing. As devastating as its aftermath is, healing from this profound trauma is possible with enough time and the right therapeutic support.
Defining Ritual Sexual Abuse
This heinous type of abuse occurs within the context of organized rituals or ceremonies—often, but not always, religious in nature. Perpetrators tend to be powerful authority figures, and they often target vulnerable individuals, such as children and devout religious believers, by exploiting their trust, respect, and devotion.
Where Does This Abuse Occur?
Ritualistic sexual abuse usually takes place in very secretive settings, making it challenging to detect and prevent. It may happen within cults, religious institutions, or even within seemingly ordinary families. The abusers use fear, guilt, shame, gaslighting, and other powerful manipulation tactics to keep you from telling others about what happened.
The Fallout For Survivors
Survivors of ritual sexual abuse often face a long and arduous journey to healing, sometimes extending decades after the abuse occurred. The consequences can be both physical and psychological and you may experience them to different degrees.
- Severe Psychological Trauma
- Dissociative Experiences
- Unexplained Physical Ailments
- Trust Issues
- Shame, Guilt, Secrecy, & Social Isolation
- Flashbacks & Nightmares
- Self-Harm & Suicidal Ideation
Severe Psychological Trauma
Sexual abuse survivors grapple with deep emotional scars, which can cause chronic anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If the trauma occurred during a key developmental period, it can give rise to Complex PTSD (C-PTSD), borderline personality disorder (BPD), and dissociative identity disorder (DID).
Many survivors experience dissociation, a coping mechanism that detaches you from your own emotions, perceptions, and memories. If it sometimes feels like your body and thoughts are not your own, the world around you isn’t real, you don’t exist, or you’ve “skipped through” or “lost” periods of time, you likely experienced dissociation.
Unexplained Physical Ailments
Sometimes, we might not feel strongly emotionally connected to traumatic events, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t affect us. Oftentimes, people whose trauma response is to unconsciously block out or numb their emotions will instead have aches, pains, fatigue, and other physical symptoms of severe stress.
Any type of sexual abuse erodes trust, making it extraordinarily difficult for survivors to build healthy relationships. However, ritualistic abuse is especially painful in that it can destroy your once-cherished trust in religion, spirituality, or your own family.
Shame, Guilt, Secrecy, & Social Isolation
Survivors will sometimes unjustly blame themselves for their abuse, carrying a heavy burden of shame and guilt. If the crime was committed by an esteemed community figure or religious leader, it can be even scarier to disclose the truth, for fear that no one will believe you or that you’ll be shunned by your entire community. Regardless of what your abuser told you, what they did was not your fault, and you deserve to seek out a safe and caring community that sides with you instead of your abuser.
Flashbacks & Nightmares
If you’ve lived through trauma, it might feel like you can never truly escape it. Vivid memories and nightmares might plague you constantly, and they feel just as real as the abusive events themselves. These are classic PTSD symptoms, but the good news is that there are many types of therapy specifically designed to target and reduce them.
Self-Harm & Suicidal Ideation
The flashbacks, shame, dissociation, and emotional turmoil of ritualistic sexual abuse are enough to drive anyone to the point of self-harm and even suicide. That being said, it is possible to heal from sexual and religious trauma, and you can take back control of your life. As difficult as it may be to believe right now, there is always hope, and you can turn your life into one you genuinely enjoy living.
How A Trauma-Informed Counselor Can Help
Recovery from ritualistic sexual abuse is a challenging process that requires professional support, understanding, and compassion. Therapists, support groups, medications, and helplines can all provide you with a lifeline for healing. With enough time and support, you can learn how to not just survive but to thrive.
Rebuilding Trust & Self-Worth
Therapy for ritual sexual abuse survivors can play a pivotal role in helping you rebuild trust in yourself and the world around you. A good mental health provider will empower you to challenge negative self-perceptions, providing you with a safe space to work through your trauma at your own pace.
Proven Therapy Options For Ritual Sexual Abuse Survivors
There are many scientifically-backed healing modalities to aid you in your healing journey. Your therapist may recommend some, or you might want to ask about ones that you have heard of before to see if it might work for you.
- Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR)
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Schema Therapy For BPD
- Relationally-Focused Therapy
- Biofeedback Practices
- Emotional Freedom Technique (“Tapping” Therapy)
- Art Therapy
- Guided Meditation, Mindfulness, & Yoga
Healing From Spiritual Trauma
For some ritual sexual abuse survivors, regaining trust in spirituality is a crucial component of therapy. This can involve individually exploring new religions, developing your own form of spirituality, finding other survivors of the same faith, or even reintegrating into a more supportive branch of your old religious community.
Of course, if you no longer tolerate spiritual beliefs at all, that’s completely valid as well—there are plenty of secular, humanist, and atheist support groups out there dedicated to helping people heal from religious trauma.
Empowerment & Resilience
A trauma-informed therapist like Dr. Taji Huang in Glendale, California will help you develop coping mechanisms and find your voice. By carefully revisiting past events, you can ultimately reframe the traumatic memories from a more empowered perspective, freeing yourself from the abuser’s reign once and for all.
What Dr. Taji Huang Can Provide
- Mental Health Evaluations
- Trauma-Focused Therapy
- Safety Planning
- Family & Relationship Therapy
- Holistic Healing Approaches
- Education & Psychoeducation
- Referrals To Medication Prescribers & Legal Advocates
Reclaim Your Life After Abuse
It’s essential to remember that healing is always possible, even if it doesn’t feel within reach at the moment, and even if past treatments have failed. Although the effects of ritualistic abuse are profound, with the right support, you can build better self-esteem, foster healthy and loving relationships, and be the author of your own life story. Schedule an initial appointment with Dr. Taji Huang today to see if she’s a good fit for you.