“There are 321,500 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault each year in the United States,” according to RAINN, a national anti-sexual violence organization.

Sexual and other abuse is very common. The odds that you or a close family member or friend has experienced sexual and/or other abuse is very high. In my experience, the odds are virtually 100 percent.

Sexual and other abuse cause low self-esteem, relationship problems, plus depression and anxiety. They also cause posttraumatic stress as well as medical problems and decreased life-span—that is, even early death. The deep shame around sexual abuse keeps it’s existence in our society behind closed doors, not discussed, and too often unhelped. Many think sexual abuse is among the worst epidemics we face.

What is the worst part of sexual abuse? It is different for each person. One person might say it is the flash of unwanted images in the mind. Others may say it is the chill they get in their chest or skin when someone they love touches their body or approaches them in a certain way. For others it may be the deep emotional feeling of being broken, flawed or worthless.

Do you or someone you love need help recovering from something that is causing you posttraumatic stress symptoms?

Reach out and get the help you need. Sexual abuse is not your fault. You can heal. Hope is possible. You can have a live worth living.