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Alyssa Digges, MA
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Amy Schell, LMHC
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Ariel Zeigler, Ph.D
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Begoña Núñez Sánchez, LP
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Braxton Stage, MHC-LP
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Carole Taylor-Tumilty, LCSW
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Caryn Moore, LCSW
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Christina Mancuso, LCSW
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Courtney Cohen, LMHC
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Daniel Rich, LMHC
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Elena Beharry, Psy.D
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Eliza Chamblin, LCSW
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Fanny Ng, Ph.D
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Gary Brucato, Ph.D
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Gavin Shafron, Ph.D
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Janel Coleman, LMSW
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Jen Oddo, LCSW
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Jessa Navidé, Psy.D.
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Joanna Kaminski, LMFT
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Josh Watson, LMSW
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Justin L.F. Yong, LMHC
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Karen Kaur, Ph.D
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Kristin Anderson, LCSW
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Logan Jones, Psy.D
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Lucas Saiter, LMHC
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Madeleine Phelan, LMSW
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Monica Amorosi, LMHC
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Nancy Lumb, LCSW
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Nicole Maselli, LMHC
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Peter Gradilone, LMSW
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Raquele Williams, LCSW
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Regina Musicaro, Ph.D
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    THERAPY FOR sexual trauma
    IN NYC

    What is sexual trauma?

    Sexual trauma encompasses a range of experiences where individuals endure unwanted or non-consensual sexual experiences, causing emotional, physical, or psychological distress. These incidents include sexual assault, rape, molestation, harassment, coercion, or other experiences of sexual violation. If you’re a survivor of sexual trauma, you may be experiencing a variety of symptoms, such as hypervigilance, flashbacks, and intrusive thoughts associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Additionally untreated sexual trauma can lead to depression, anxiety, and challenges with trust and intimacy in your relationships.

    The impacts of sexual trauma can ripple through every aspect of your life, affecting your relationships, work, and inner sense of self. You may struggle with trusting others, forming intimate connections, and feeling safe in your own body. It’s important to know that you are not alone in your journey and that healing is possible with time, support, and understanding through therapy for sexual trauma in NYC.

    How do I know if I’ve experienced sexual trauma?

    If you’re questioning whether you’ve experienced sexual trauma, you may be wondering if you should listen to your feelings and trust your instincts. Sexual trauma encompasses deeply painful experiences of unwanted or non-consensual sexual contact, assault, abuse, or harassment. It can happen at any stage of life and in various settings, such as relationships, families, institutions, or communities.

    If you’ve ever felt violated, threatened, or coerced in a sexual context, it’s possible that you have experienced sexual trauma. If you’re unsure about your experiences, speaking with a trusted friend, family member, or mental health professional can provide support and help you process your feelings. Remember, your feelings are valid, and you deserve to feel safe and supported.

    Sexual assault may look like:

    • Manipulation through guilt or threats to engage in sexual activity.

    • Ignoring boundaries and persisting after verbal refusal.

    • Insisting on unwanted sexual activity within a relationship under the threat of leaving or withholding affection.

    • Coercing or pressuring a partner into unwanted sexual activity.

    • Sexual abuse by a family member that is kept hidden within the family dynamic.

    • Insisting on unprotected sex despite the other person’s objections.

    • Unwanted sexual contact during sleep or unconsciousness.

    • Unwanted sexual comments or advances from a coworker or supervisor in a professional setting.

    • Using threats of job loss or promotion opportunities for sexual favors at work.

    • Pressure from a teacher or professor for sexual activity in exchange for grades or academic favors.

    • Being groped or harassed by classmates in a school setting.

    • Medical professionals making inappropriate sexual comments or advances during appointments.

    • Being pressured or groomed into sexual activity by a religious leader or authority figure within a religious community.

    • Sharing intimate photos or videos of a partner without consent to control or manipulate them.

    • Using alcohol or drugs to impair someone’s judgment and engage in sexual activity against their will.

    • Any sexual activity that happens without clear, affirmative consent

    These are just a few examples, and sexual assault can occur in any relationship or context where one person violates another person’s boundaries and autonomy through unwanted sexual contact or behavior.

    What are common symptoms Survivors of Sexual Trauma may experience?

    Survivors of sexual trauma often carry heavy emotional burdens that linger long after the traumatic event has passed.

    These burdens may include symptoms such as:

    • Shame and self-blame: Feelings of shame, self-blame, and worthlessness, believing you’re somehow responsible for the trauma or unworthy of support and care.

    • Emotional distress: You may experience intense emotions such as fear, guilt, sadness, or numbness. These emotions may fluctuate and be triggered by reminders of the trauma.

    • Post-traumatic stress symptoms: This can include flashbacks, intrusive thoughts or memories, nightmares, hypervigilance, and avoidance of reminders of the trauma.

    • Anxiety and panic attacks: You may experience heightened anxiety, panic attacks, or feelings of being on edge or constantly on guard.

    • Depression: Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, and a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed.

    • Difficulty with intimacy and relationships: You may struggle with trust, intimacy, and forming healthy relationships due to fear of vulnerability or re-traumatization.

    • Physical symptoms: Such as headaches, gastrointestinal issues, chronic pain, or sexual dysfunction.

    • Anger and irritability: Anger, irritability, or rage, which may be directed towards yourself, others, or the perpetrator of the trauma.

    • Coping with negative feelings through substance use: Some may turn to alcohol, drugs, or other substances as a way to cope with their feelings or numb emotional pain.

    • Self-destructive behaviors: This can include self-harm, suicidal thoughts, or engaging in risky behaviors as a way to cope with overwhelming emotions.

    Myths surrounding sexual assault

    Myth: If someone doesn’t physically resist, it’s not sexual assault 

    Fact: Tonic immobility, often dubbed as the “freeze” response, can be triggered during a sexual assault due to extreme fear and stress. It’s like your body hitting the pause button, making it tough to physically resist or flee. Unfortunately, this involuntary response can intensify feelings of helplessness and vulnerability, and in some studies, survivors who experienced tonic immobility were 3 times more likely to experience depression following the assault. It’s important to know that whether due to physical safety in the moment or the biological reflex of tonic immobility, many individuals don’t physically resist during an assault. Affirmative consent, on the other hand, is all about making sure there’s a clear “yes” rather than assuming silence or lack of resistance means approval. Whether you physically resisted or not, without your active, affirmative consent during a sexual encounter, what you experienced may have been sexual assault or trauma.

    Myth: Sexual assault only occurs by strangers

    Fact: The myth that sexual assault only occurs by strangers is false. In reality, the majority of sexual assaults are perpetrated by someone known to the victim, such as a friend, acquaintance, family member, intimate partner, or colleague. This type of sexual violence, often referred to as “acquaintance rape” or “date rape,” is alarmingly common. Perpetrators may exploit trust, manipulate situations, or take advantage of vulnerabilities to commit sexual assault. This myth can be harmful as it may lead to misconceptions about the nature of sexual violence and contribute to victim-blaming attitudes. It’s crucial to recognize that sexual assault can occur in various contexts and relationships, and perpetrators can be anyone, regardless of their relationship to the victim.

    Myth: Sexual assault is primarily motivated by sexual desire 

    Fact: Sexual assault is rooted in power, control, and domination over the victim. Perpetrators use sexual assault as a means to assert authority and inflict harm, disregarding the victim’s autonomy and consent. Numerous studies and psychological analyses have revealed that perpetrators often have complex motivations beyond mere sexual attraction, including feelings of entitlement, anger, or the need to humiliate or degrade their victims. Understanding sexual assault as a crime of power dynamics is crucial for effective prevention and support strategies for survivors. 

    Myth: Men can’t be sexually assaulted

    Fact: This myth is harmful and incorrect. Stereotypically, men are often depicted as strong and untouchable in society, leading to the misconception that they don’t often experience sexual abuse or assault. This harmful belief can deter male survivors from seeking help, as they may fear not being believed or experiencing shame over the abuse they endured. Sexual assault can happen to anyone, regardless of gender identity. Men, women, and individuals of all gender identities can be targets of sexual assault.

    Myth: People often lie about being sexually assaulted 

    Fact: It’s a misconception to assume that people often lie about being sexually assaulted. In reality, false reports of sexual assault are relatively rare. It’s crucial to approach reports of sexual assault with empathy, support, and a commitment to thorough investigation to ensure justice for survivors. The perpetuation of myths about false reporting can have harmful consequences. It can deter survivors from seeking help and reporting their experiences, contribute to victim-blaming attitudes, and undermine efforts to support survivors and hold perpetrators accountable. 

    Myth: People who are sexually assaulted always show obvious signs of trauma 

    Fact: Reactions to sexual trauma are as diverse as people themselves. While many survivors do exhibit visible signs of distress, trauma responses can vary widely and may not always be immediately apparent. Some survivors may experience shock or numbness, leading them to appear calm or composed outwardly, while others may display more obvious signs of distress such as crying, trembling, or agitation. Additionally, individuals may cope with trauma by dissociating or compartmentalizing their experiences, making it difficult for others to recognize their distress. Cultural and individual differences in how people express emotions further complicate the picture. 

    Furthermore, delayed reactions to trauma are common, with survivors sometimes only displaying signs of distress days, weeks, or even years after the assault. Therefore, assuming that all survivors will exhibit obvious signs of trauma can lead to misinterpretation, disbelief, and further harm. It’s crucial to approach survivors with empathy, validate their experiences, and provide them with the support and resources they need to heal, regardless of their outward reactions.

    Myth: It’s not sexual assault if the individual is in a relationship with the perpetrator 

    Fact: Consent must be freely given in every sexual encounter, regardless of the relationship between the individuals involved. Being in a relationship with someone does not imply automatic consent to sexual activity. Regardless of the nature of the relationship, any sexual activity without clear and enthusiastic consent is still considered sexual assault. Trust and intimacy should enhance communication and respect, not override the need for mutual agreement and boundaries. Consent remains fundamental, irrespective of the dynamics or history between individuals involved.

    Myth: It’s not sexual assault if the person had a physiological response 

    Fact: Even though it might seem counterintuitive, the body’s autonomic nervous system can sometimes trigger physical responses like arousal including erection or lubrication during a sexual assault, purely as a physiological reaction to stress or certain types of physical contact. However, it’s crucial to understand that this response doesn’t diminish the violation or the trauma of the assault in any way—consent is about choice and agency, not involuntary bodily reactions. 

    Attributing physiological responses to enjoyment or consent reinforces harmful victim-blaming attitudes and undermines the complexity of trauma responses. It’s crucial to understand that sexual assault is defined by the absence of consent, regardless of any physical reactions that may occur.


    Challenging these myths is essential for creating a more supportive and informed response to sexual assault and promoting survivor-centered approaches to prevention, intervention, and support.


      Therapists Who Specialize in Therapy for Sexual Trauma in NYC

      Connecting with the right therapist is the most important factor in your search. We’re here to help you find a great match.

      We’re here to help survivors of sexual trauma heal

      Recovery from sexual trauma is a delicate and individual process that requires patience, compassion, and self-care. Seeking therapy, joining support groups, and accessing advocacy services can offer valuable tools and resources to navigate their healing journey. 

      At Clarity Therapy NYC, our trauma-informed therapists provide a safe and supportive space for survivors of sexual trauma to process their emotions, heal from their experiences, and develop coping strategies. Through compassionate, expert guidance and tailored therapeutic support, therapy for sexual trauma can empower survivors to reclaim their sense of agency, rebuild trust, and move forward towards a life of greater resilience and well-being.

      Therapy Approaches Effective for Healing Sexual Trauma

      In the complex landscape of addressing sexual trauma, various therapeutic approaches can provide survivors with healing and empowerment. At Clarity Therapy NYC, our licensed trauma-informed therapists draw from a variety of evidence-based practices, including:

      • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): EMDR operates on the premise that traumatic memories are stored differently in the brain. Through bilateral stimulation, such as eye movements, EMDR helps individuals effectively process these memories while reducing the emotional impact.

      • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is a widely used therapeutic approach that helps individuals learn to identify and challenge negative beliefs related to the traumatic event. By examining and reframing these thoughts, CBT can empower you to develop healthier coping strategies and improve how you feel.

      • Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART): ART, like EMDR, also incorporates eye movements to process traumatic memories. However, unlike EMDR, it also focuses on releasing uncomfortable bodily sensations and doesn’t require survivors to retell the trauma story.

      • Mindfulness: Mindfulness practices, such as meditation and body scanning, can help individuals cultivate present-moment awareness, reduce reactivity to triggers, and promote relaxation and self-soothing.

      • Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT): CPT is a short-term cognitive behavioral therapy designed to treat trauma. Individuals come away with a new interpretation of the traumatic experience and as a result experience a decrease in unwanted symptoms.

      • Somatic Experiencing (SE): SE aims to resolve symptoms of stress, shock, and trauma that accumulate in the body. It helps people gain a better understanding of the body’s response to trauma and work through a “body first” approach to healing.

      What does Therapy for Sexual Trauma in nyc look like?

      At Clarity Therapy, sessions for sexual trauma recovery typically involve a combination of techniques and approaches to help you improve how you cope. The specific elements of therapy for sexual trauma may vary depending on your needs, but here are some common aspects:

      • Making Sense of What Happened: Through therapy, you can explore and make sense of your experiences in a safe and supportive environment. This process can involve understanding the impact of trauma on beliefs, behaviors, and relationships, as well as integrating fragmented memories and emotions into a coherent narrative.
      • Reframing Self-Blame: Therapy helps you challenge feelings of self-blame and shame by recognizing that you are not responsible for the actions of the perpetrator. By exploring the dynamics of power and control inherent in sexual trauma, you can cultivate self-compassion and let go of misplaced guilt.
      • Reframing from Victimhood to Survivorhood: Therapy assists you in reframing your identity from that of a victim to that of a survivor. This involves reclaiming agency and resilience, recognizing personal strengths and resilience, and shifting the focus from past trauma to present empowerment and future growth.
      • Finding a Sense of Safety: Therapy provides you tools and techniques to cultivate a sense of safety and empowerment in your life. This may involve setting boundaries, developing assertiveness skills, and creating a supportive network of relationships that prioritize safety and trust.
      • Developing Coping Strategies: Therapy equips you with practical coping strategies to manage triggers, regulate emotions, and navigate challenging situations. These may include relaxation techniques, grounding exercises, mindfulness practices, and assertiveness skills.
      • Symptom Reduction: Therapy aims to reduce the distressing symptoms commonly associated with sexual trauma, such as anxiety, depression, PTSD symptoms (flashbacks, nightmares, hypervigilance), and self-destructive behaviors, allowing you to experience greater emotional stability and well-being.
      • Enhancing Self-Esteem: Therapy supports you in rebuilding self-esteem and self-worth that may have been eroded by the trauma. Through validation, encouragement, and positive reinforcement, you can develop a more compassionate and accepting relationship with yourself.
      • Addressing Body Image Issues: Sexual trauma can impact your relationship with your body, leading to feelings of disconnection, shame, or dysphoria. Therapy helps you cultivate a more positive and accepting relationship with your body through body-focused interventions and self-care practices.
      • Exploring Healthy Relationships: Therapy provides a space to explore and cultivate healthy relationships based on trust, respect, and mutual consent. This may involve examining patterns of communication, setting boundaries, and fostering intimacy in safe and supportive ways.
      • Addressing Sexual Dysfunction: You may experience sexual difficulties or aversions as a result of sexual trauma. Therapy offers a non-judgmental space to address these issues, explore intimacy concerns, and develop strategies for reclaiming pleasure and sexual agency.
      • Promoting Empowerment: Ultimately, therapy aims to empower you to reclaim your life, voice, and future on your terms. By fostering a sense of agency, autonomy, and empowerment, you can move forward with resilience and hope.

      • Connecting with Supportive Communities: Therapy can facilitate connections with support groups, online communities, or advocacy organizations where you can find validation, solidarity, and understanding from others who have shared similar experiences.

      What if I’m not ready to start therapy for sexual trauma?

      If you’re not ready for therapy, that’s okay. It can be intimidating to be vulnerable, but therapy is a healthy and supportive space when you’re ready. It helps you learn about yourself and grow as an individual. All reasons for seeking therapy are valid. Below are some helpful resources to explore if you’re not ready to start just yet:

      Interested in Therapy for Sexual Trauma in NYC?

      We can help.

      Sexual trauma can be immensely challenging, but therapy offers a safe and empowering space for individuals to navigate their experiences, rebuild a sense of control, and embark on a journey towards healing and well-being.

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