Together We Heal

Together We Heal is for any who suffer from the trauma of childhood sexual abuse. We provide a safe forum for survivors of abuse to share, learn and heal. We work to expose sexual predators and their methods of getting into our lives.

The Abused Addict – Roads To Recovery *Updated 2013*


Over the last few weeks as a guest blogger on Rachel Grant Coaching, we have talked about childhood sexual abuse as it relates to addiction, depression, anxiety, abandonment, PTSD, the impact it may have on our DNA…Lions and Tigers and Bears, OH MY!!! I only make a joke not to make light of our situation as survivors, but rather to bring a little levity to a situation that for some of feels like the sky is falling and we are being attacked on multiple fronts by creatures that can devour us. So with all of these potential pitfalls and problems seeming to lurk around every corner, what do we do?

Having done my usual research and even stepping into waters just being tested, I have come across both the usual suspects of therapy and a couple not so well-known. It is my hope that no matter whether one of these specific therapies helps you or a loved one or not, you find one that does, because what I do know is that healing from abuse is not something that happens naturally. It takes help, it takes time and it takes work. So please do whatever you need to reach out and find the help that is available.

Under the category of “usual but relatively proven” therapies we find Psychotherapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Group Therapy, and Self-Help Groups.

Psychotherapy consists of a series of techniques for treating mental health, emotional and some psychiatric disorders. Psychotherapy helps the patient understand what helps them feel positive or anxious, as well as accepting their strong and weak points. If people can identify their feelings and ways of thinking they become better at coping with difficult situations.

Psychotherapy is commonly used for psychological problems that have had a number of years to accumulate. It only works if a trusting relationship can be built up between the client and the psychotherapist. Treatment can continue for several months, and even years.

Some people refer to psychotherapy as “talking treatment” because it is generally based on talking to the therapist or group of people with similar problems. Some forms of psychotherapy also use other forms of communication, including writing, artwork, drama, narrative story or music. Sessions take place within a structured encounter between a qualified therapist and a client or clients. Purposeful, theoretically based psychotherapy started in the 19th century with psychoanalysis; it has developed significantly since then.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapeutic treatment that helps patients understand the thoughts and feelings that influence behaviors. CBT is commonly used to treat a wide range of disorders, including phobias, addiction, depression and anxiety.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is generally short-term and focused on helping clients deal with a very specific problem. During the course of treatment, people learn how to identify and change destructive or disturbing thought patterns that have a negative influence on behavior.

The underlying concept behind CBT is that our thoughts and feelings play a fundamental role in our behavior. For example, a person who spends a lot of time thinking about plane crashes, runway accidents and other air disasters may find themselves avoiding air travel. The goal of cognitive behavioral therapy is to teach patients that while they cannot control every aspect of the world around them, they can take control of how they interpret and deal with things in their environment. Because CBT is usually a short-term treatment option, it is often more affordable than some other types of therapy. CBT is also empirically supported and has been shown to effectively help patients overcome a wide variety of maladaptive behaviors.

(Note from Rachel Grant: As as little aside, the Beyond Surviving program she developed for adult survivors of abuse draws upon many of the techniques used in CBT.)

Delivered in a group of people, Group Therapy and Self-Help Groups are for people who have experienced abuse and can be an extremely cathartic experience. Individuals who feel different, ashamed, or guilty as a result of the abuse will benefit immensely from discovering other people who have lived through similar experiences. Although not limited to groups like SNAP and The Lamplighters, they are certainly organizations that have proven themselves to be helpful for survivors of CSA.

(Note: Rachel Grant leads an Adult Survivors of Child Abuse support group every month in San Francisco and I am the South Florida Area support group leader for SNAP-Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests- – Additionally, Together We Heal helps to provide counseling for those in need. Be sure to contact either of us and we can tell you more).

Next we have some relatively newer therapies, with regard to years of experience in the realm of psychology. TRE (Tension and Trauma Releasing Exercises) is one. TRE is a simple technique that uses exercises to release stress or tension from the body that accumulates from every day circumstances of life, from difficult situations, immediate or prolonged stressful situations, or traumatic life experiences.

TRE is a set of six exercises that help to release deep tension from the body by evoking a self-controlled muscular shaking process in the body called neurogenic muscle tremors. The uniqueness of this technique is that this shaking originates deep in the core of the body of the psoas muscles. These gentle tremors reverberate outwards along the spine releasing tension from the sacrum to the cranium.

Another is by a former associate professor at the University of Kentucky’s educational and counseling psychology department, Kate Chard and it centers on Cognitive Processing. “It was the first NIMH-funded treatment outcome study on childhood sexual abuse,” she says. This three-year study of women (Chard has done an equivalent study with men) took adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse through a 17-week, manual-based program, with individual or a combination of individual and group sessions.

“What you think affects what you feel, which, in turn, affects what you do,” Chard says, summing up the basic theory behind cognitive therapy. “We build on this by saying that due to the traumatic event, the ability to process cognitively has become impaired. Biologists can look at the neurotransmitter connections in the brain and actually see differences between people who’ve been through traumatic events, such as childhood abuse, and people who have not.”

Another option is coaching. While still fairly new, coaching is a great option for survivors of abuse who are ready to move into the final stage of recovery. If you would like to learn more about coaching, you can of course give Rachel a call or email her. She’d be happy to answer any questions you might have about how coaching works.

While these are by no means all of the potential therapies out there, the point I am hoping comes through today is that no matter which type of therapy you seek as a survivor of abuse, the point is that you indeed seek one, and don’t stop until you find the one that works for you. As I mentioned earlier, it is of the utmost importance that you find professional help. Just as a police officer or military person is required to see a therapist when they go through an extraordinary time of trauma, so we as survivors of childhood sexual abuse must get assistance. What we have been through is beyond an extraordinary event, it’s beyond the pale. And seeking help does not mean we are weak, it shows no signs of lacking anything. To the contrary, it means you care enough about yourself and the ones that love you that you will take the necessary steps to ensure your continued growth as a person. Let me say this again, you aren’t weak, you are human, it’s ok for others to help you.


I had a reader ask me if I had heard of any therapy for survivors as they related to the use of animals, they spoke specifically of horses. And while I did not find any with horses, what I DID find was some exciting news. I discovered the following article and subsequent foundation that uses dogs to help survivors of all types of trauma, and other therapeutic needs. While its not specific for CSA, I have no doubt that it has the potential to help both children and adults, as it does with other forms of trauma. So please look into it if you are finding that what you have tried has not been successful for you. As I mentioned in this article, the main objective is to keep trying until you find what works for you. We are all different and what works for one might not work for another. But I know you can find something that WILL work for you as long as you look.

And thank you to the reader that brought this to my attention. You may never know who all will be helped with this knowledge…but you can rest assured that someone will benefit from it. Thank you!

Copyright © 2013 Together We Heal

Author: Together We Heal

In 2006 David took the first step in a long and painful journey back from the abyss of addiction and self-destruction. He promised his dying father that he would get clean. And he did. But as he cleaned his body and soul, he began to confront the sexual abuse that his addiction had for so long obscured — abuse perpetrated by a church youth minister when David was 12 to 15 years old. Those three years of abuse destroyed the foundation of love and faith that had been built by his family. For 25 years, David kept the abuse secret and lost himself in a fog of drugs and alcohol. He was by turns destitute, at times incarcerated. The promise to his dying father was the catalyst. And the bedrock of his mother’s love and devotion was the foundation on which David rebuilt his life. Therapy, 12-step meetings, and soul-deep determination were the bricks and mortar. David founded Together We Heal to provide fellow survivors and their families, guidance through the trauma of childhood sexual abuse. In 2015 he was asked to become a part of the Child Safeguarding Initiative team with GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) to empower the Christian community through education and training to recognize, prevent, and respond to child abuse. David represents Together We Heal & GRACE across the country as a public speaker and instructor; teaching churches, schools, and families how to talk with their kids about sexual abuse, how to better identify predatory behavior, and how to properly respond to those harmed. "To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.” - Dr. Seuss

7 thoughts on “The Abused Addict – Roads To Recovery *Updated 2013*

  1. Dave, reading your article and excellent thumbnails of various therapy models, I want to ask you if you have heard of any uses of equine assisted psychotherapy in dealing with CSA. I’ve been involved with an adolescent drug and alcohol group that uses equine assisted work on a weekly basis. The equine-assisted psychologist tells me she typically gets to issues in one hour with the help of the horses, that normally she wouldn’t expect to reach till about the fourth session in just talk therapy. That’s anecdotal, of course, but I’m really impressed with what I’ve seen so far.


    • While I have not heard of any, that doesn’t mean they don’t exists, or that some form of therapy involving animals isn’t out there for survivors of CSA. And I certainly believe in that type of therapy. I have seen it be successful with addicts, alcoholics, as well as prisoners, so there is no reason to doubt the potential positive effects it could have with survivors. I will certainly look into it and let you know what I find out. And I suggest you do the same..if you find something please let me know. Anything that helps a person open up and begin the healing process, at least in my opinion, is a positive thing and should be utilized! Thank you so much for making me think about this! Always appreciative of different ways of thinking and helping! You can email me directly at Dave


    • I have some exciting news and I will update the article as well. While I did not see anything initially with horses, I did find the following article and resulting foundation that uses dogs to help survivors of all types of trauma, and other therapeutic needs.

      I hope this gives you at least a starting point from which to find more info and at the very least, an option. Please let me know if you find more. And thank you again for your thoughts and comments!



    • I wanted to follow up with you to make sure you saw the update I made to the article. While I did not find any equine-related therapy, and that still doesn’t mean it’s not out there, I did find some canine-related. Please be sure to reread and I would be very interested in your thoughts. Thank you again for causing me to think beyond the “norm” and do even more research! Hope it helped!


  2. Hello,
    I was wondering about an individual who during childhood around his single parent who had depression and was also abused as a child, then abusing her own child, and this child had not been helped with that.
    The child was not only abused by the single mother, but later was sent to an aunt and uncle with the uncle physically and mentally abusing the child, and the when the child who was nine, was sent to therapy because the uncle and aunt over heard the child tell his mother (on the phone) that he wanted to die, the uncle instructed the child to not talk about the family to the therapist. The therapist did not question why the child was living with his uncle and aunt or about the mother (who lost the child because of drugs and prostitution).
    Now 11 years old, moved back with mother and her boyfriend, the boyfriend beat the child that the mother saw, and more beatings that the mother did not see or the sexual abuse, and later the boyfriend stacking the now young teen (when they moved without the boyfriend).
    This is by a professional for mental illness–“What you think affects what you feel, which, in turn, affects what you do”.
    The teen without proper help during his life, mirrored some behaviors of what he had gone through onto others. Who at the age of 15 isolated himself from the world never going out, the now adult feels remorse, and more shame and quilt to a point that when professionals in his state do not help, he believes that he does not deserve help, but still wants help, he mainly learned through the computer, but does not understand peoples behaviors or his owns, he does not understand social behavior.
    Will most professionals dislike this now adult, and not help him?


    • I’m not sure who this person encountered and I’m sorry to hear they were made to feel the way they do and for what they were forced to endure. To answer that last question, I can assure you that none of the counselors we have would judge him in any way, nor would they “not like him”. To the contrary, they would show compassion and care and do whatever they could to help him.

      Please let me know if we could setup a time to talk in more detail and find out if we might be able to help in some way.

      Just email me at



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