Sexual abuse counselling

The secrets that haunt you are the shackles of your past. Speak up and allow yourself to feel free.

Sexual trauma and sexual abuse is any kind of sexual activity that you do not agree to. These may include; inappropriate touching, penetrative or oral sex with the use of objects rather than body parts, inappropriate videography/photography, attempted rape and child molestation.

Sexual trauma or sexual abuse of children

Sexual assault or sexual abuse of children refers to a child engaging, being coerced into or exposed to sexual behaviour by an adult or someone older than them. Sexual abuse can also include naked photographs of the child. It may also refer to the touching of sexual organs, oral sex or sexual intercourse. The child may also be exposed to sexual content and/or inclusion of acting out with other children. The child’s trust is exploited to benefit the abuser, often, but not exclusively, by someone who is well known to the child.

Whatever the details of your sexual trauma or sexual abuse, you are reading this because you are trying to survive. Do not minimise what you have been through by comparing your experience to others. Your experience is your own. It is real to you and it has changed you. Dealing with trauma isn’t something anyone should have to go through alone. Not only am I qualified to assist in Sexual Trauma Counselling, but I have personally been affected and through my experience I can offer a safe, accepting and supporting environment so that you can come to terms with what you’ve been through and move forward with your life.

How does sexual trauma affect people?

Sexual assault and sexual abuse affect people in different ways. Our feelings about our experiences vary and there is no right or wrong response to what you are going through.

You may find that you have very strong feelings about what’s happened and that it lasts for some time. Some of these may include feeling too upset to eat or sleep. You may be tearful or angry suddenly – angry with your attacker, yourself or other people for not protecting you. It’s common to feel ashamed, guilty or embarrassed. You may become afraid of being left alone or feeling unsafe as if your attacker may find you. Often you can experience high levels of anxiety and feel overwhelmed by life. Being physically close to your loved ones, especially your partner can feel uncomfortable as you work through your ordeal.

When you experience a traumatic event like sexual assault or sexual abuse, your body may have physical and emotional effects like stomach pain or headaches. You may begin to feel depressed or have panic attacks or flashbacks. If you find yourself wanting to use alcohol or substances to self-medicate, this is a sure sign that you need to speak to someone. If these feelings persist for a long period of time, consider the possibility of having post-traumatic stress disorder.

How does sexual trauma affect children?

Sexual assault or sexual abuse experienced by a child has a direct impact on their emotional well-being. Often, the child has trouble identifying, expressing and managing their emotions. For some children, they may have a limited vocabulary so are unable to verbally express the feelings they have inside, instead they act out these feelings through negative behaviours such as hitting, biting and lashing out. Their feelings may become internalised as they withdraw and become overly compliant, leading to depression or high levels of anxiety. The physical aspects of a child can also be impacted on, as sexual assault or sexual abuse affects their developmental and cognitive abilities. This may be exhibited through poor concentration, poor attention and focus, not listening, seeming far away in thought and poor follow through of tasks. The affected child may speak of feeling unsafe in the world through every day activities. Nightmares, night terrors, bedwetting, a fear of being alone or in the dark are also common associations with children who have experienced sexual assault or sexual abuse.

What you can do to start healing?

You begin healing by offering yourself the best level of nurturing and care you can. Be gentle with yourself. If you don’t feel ready to reach out to a professional, then look at the support you have around you. Is there anyone you can speak to who is able to emotionally support you? Often, just speaking about what has happened can lessen your feelings of emotional overload. Choose someone to confide in who you can trust.

Do your best to eat well and sleep regularly to give your body an opportunity to heal. Prepare a calming night time ritual like a hot bath and hot drink before bed. This will comfort you and relax your body. Keep a dull light on so should you wake up, you can see your environment clearly. Surround yourself with those whom you love and feel safe with. It is ok to avoid places and situations that trigger old memories of your ordeal in the short term. Eventually you will begin to face the reality of what happened as part of your recovery. Should this persist long in to the future, it is worth taking guidance from a professional to help you create coping mechanisms so that day to day living feels manageable.

Learning to breathe deeply helps to regulate your nervous system, leaving you feeling calmer, less anxious and more in control. Focus on repeating a mantra during your breathing that puts you at ease and reassures you that you are secure i.e.. “I am safe”.

Focus on your ‘here and now’. Don’t allow your mind to get lost in the thoughts of what happened or what could have happened. Remind yourself that in this moment you are safe, going about your daily routine, doing what you do every day. Emphasize the fact that you are safe as many times as you need to reassure yourself.

Journaling your thoughts and emotions, especially if you feel overwhelmed by them, can be a releasing experience. Write freely without censoring yourself by putting the ideas you have in your mind down on paper. Avoid re-reading what you have written, keep yourself moving forward through the feelings so you don’t become trapped by them.

It may be useful to sign yourself up for a self-defense class or another workshop that will empower you and leave you feeling more confident in your ability to protect yourself. This will leave you feeling safer in the world.

Dependent on your decision to press charges against your attacker, you may have a long road ahead of you. Ensure you have the best possible support to make this as stress free an experience as possible.

Join a support group where you can be around people who understand what you are going through and who can show you how far, you too, can come in becoming a survivor.

What you can do to help others who have experienced sexual trauma and abuse?

The most valuable way to help someone who has been sexually assaulted or sexually abused is by being available. Be available to hear your loved one’s story, when and if, they choose to share their experience with you. Often, victims of sexual assault or sexual abuse spend their lives believing that they were responsible for what happened to them. The most loving thing you can say to them is that this was not their fault. It may be hard to hear their story but give them space to share and show them you are listening. You don’t need to have a solution for them, just be there. Ask them if they would like to have a hug for comfort instead of assuming they would. It can be hard to know what to do in a situation like this, so don’t feel afraid to ask your loved one what you can do for them? Often, it’s the action you least expect that is meaningful to them.

If your loved one would like to attend the police station, hospital or see a counsellor, you can offer to go with them so that they do not have to go through this alone. If this is something that feels too difficult for you, be honest, then identify someone else who may be able to support them better.

If your loved one suffers from panic attacks, remind them of where they are and reassure them that they are safe. Let your loved one repeat back to you what you are saying and help them to focus on breathing deeply. Stay with them until the feelings have passed.

If your loved one experiences flashbacks or night terrors help support them through this by doing the following: Put a soft light on and speak gently. Tell them that they are having a flashback or night terror, that can feel very real but they are safe with you. Help them to breathe deeply and reassure them. When they are calmer encourage them by explaining that their body is processing what they have been through and it is giving them an opportunity to heal. Be gentle with them and ask them if they need something else from you.

The road to recovery may be a long one, but with unlimited love, patience and support healing can occur. As the bystander, you may find yourself going through your own trauma so take care of you too. If you need someone to help you then allow yourself that opportunity. Read up on rape and how to support rape victims to empower yourself with knowledge, remembering that each process is its own with its own time frame.

How I can help?

Whatever the details of your sexual trauma or sexual abuse, you are reading this because you are trying to survive. Do not minimise what you have been through by comparing your experience to others. Your experience is your own. It is real to you and it has changed you. There are always things that we can be doing to improve our lives, but when we find ourselves in survival mode, even the simplest of tasks can seem impossible. The truth is, you are not meant to walk this path alone. You are not meant to spend your life in isolation, feeling different, feeling damaged. You are not meant to feel so changed that you forget who you are. These feelings are real when you have faced a fear you could never imagine. This terrible ordeal has happened to you. What now? Now, you take the hand that is offering you strength and comfort until you find your own again. Sexual trauma counselling gives you a place that makes you feel safe to go back into the darkness and put it to rest. You learn to find yourself under layers of darkness and protection. Slowly, with each shaky step you move forward. You begin to see the treasures that were hiding below the paralyzing feelings and begin to rebuild yourself. Rising, rising, rising. Take my hand and rise.

How I work

My approach

Driven by passion, my working style is open, honest and highly intuitive. If you choose to work with me, I expect you to put the bs story you’ve been telling yourself about why you can’t move on and why you can’t be a success, aside. I am results driven, that means that I am invested in YOU and your recovery. I take my commitments seriously. That being said, I, better than anyone, know that we each move at our own pace, so equally I celebrate individuality and tailor the pace and progress of your success to achieve your goals. Where there is gentleness, there is also strength, my working style embodies both. I dig into your depths and help you build a rock-solid foundation of self-belief and confidence. Whatever is out there, is yours for the taking. I guide you in making that your reality. I see you, all of you, even when you are unable to.

My clients

My passion is helping others and I embrace all people from all walks of life, irrespective of age, race, gender or stature. I work with people young and old, male and female, gay or straight…. Trauma, life, challenges, hurt, pain doesn’t discriminate in my books. So, whoever you are, wherever you are from, when we take each step together, we move forward together and we celebrate your victories together. Building our relationship on trust and nurturing you in a safe and protected space can only have a positive impact on your life.

My training

I have many certifications and accreditation, however, I believe my greatest ‘training’ comes directly from my personal experience. Having been exposed to trauma from a young age through to adulthood, experience has given me the capacity to not only empathise with my clients, but honestly sympathise with where they are in life, because I have been there too. My experience has given me compassion and a deep rooted understanding, my B.A. Honors in Social Science along with many other certifications I have worked hard for, have given me the tools to be able to further my true passion…. helping others with their challenges…because you don’t have to be alone

Becoming my client

If you feel ready to make a change or improve parts of yourself, we are a great fit. If you are unsure about committing to change and feel halfheartedly about growing, I would be doing you a disservice by agreeing to work with you. Time and energy are valuable commodities, invest wisely in yourself and who you work with. You deserve nothing less.

On our journey together you'll

TRANSFORM every area of your life into vibrant success.

REVIVE and awaken yourself from the haze of shock and the aftermath of your ordeal.

ACCEPT what has happened to you and take strength from your situation.

UNDERSTAND who you now are because life has changed you.

METHODICALLY move beyond the limitations that you’ve been creating as a way to survive.

ACHIEVE the best version of you by rising above the superficiality of your experience, owning the depth of your wisdom and the freedom that is yours to have.

Book a free introductory call and learn how I can help you transform your life.

On our journey together you'll

TRANSFORM every area of your life into vibrant success. REVIVE and awaken yourself from the haze of shock and the aftermath of your ordeal. ACCEPT what has happened to you and take strength from your situation. UNDERSTAND who you now are because life has changed you. METHODICALLY move beyond the limitations that you’ve been creating as a way to survive. ACHIEVE the best version of you by rising above the superficiality of your experience, owning the depth of your wisdom and the freedom that is yours to have.

Book a free introductory call and learn how I can help you transform your life.

What my clients say

"If you feel that your long-held beliefs and deep rooted problems are holding you back in life, then I can recommend this course to you. Over two days, the counseling and encouragement triggered a catalyst for me to begin a journey of self-discovery, all within a safe environment with others who felt the same way."

Sarah (Guernsey, Channel Islands) 2005

"I feel that the structure of the course would challenge anybody and their boundaries on many levels. I cried a lot during the weekend but maybe that was meant to happen. I didn’t feel sad after we finished the sessions each day, drained yes, but not sad. Optimistic in fact, because you’ve been given some tools to help you cope with stress and problems in your life from now on in. I learned something important too that I deserved to be happy. A lot of the time I don’t think that I do … The Louise Hay workshop has left a lasting imprint on my heart and I will never forget the women I met or what we all learnt about ourselves and from each other with the help of our tutors. Going back to what I said at the start, I am so glad I took part and I would highly recommend this course to anyone."

Alne (Lusty Beg, Belfast)

"I saw her (chiropractor) this morning and she said it was the first time in four years that she has been able to adjust my lower back its thanks to the wonderful work you helped me with last weekend. All my emotions were ‘stored’ down there and I was holding on to them for dear life! Now that I’ve been able to let go emotionally, my body has been able to let go as well. I am so much better off since meeting you... The work we did has had a wonderful effect on my life! I can now truly see each new day as a gift, without needing to look backwards or forwards. Thanks to the lessons you taught me, my life has a whole new meaning and it is so liberating to be able to leave the old behind… Keep up the wonderful work that you are doing!"

Joanne (Johannesburg) 2008

"GETTING ALONG MARVELLOUSLY!!! I am really astounded (and believe me when I say this – it takes a lot to move me). I am more positive and getting more so. My outlook has changed completely (more positive thoughts and so forth). The reason for all this is: On Tueday last week got phoned from a hotel group that previously did not approve my application – went for interview last Friday (awaiting positive results) and on Wednesday last week my current employer offered me a higher position and remuneration and so forth (I have wanted this for the last 6 months or more – new job and higher income). Things, (big and small) seem to really fall in place.”

Lucas (Johannesburg) 2008 

"I attended the ‘love yourself, heal your life’ course this weekend with Gaelene and I can’t even express how awesome it was. I felt as if the content was ‘written’ especially for me and it is going to push me over that last little hurdle after which, I plan to never ever look back on this dark time. I just wanted to thank you from the bottom of my heart for the life changing course this weekend. I cannot believe how much it has helped me and how much it feels like I have been lifted out of a very deep, dark hole. I am aware that this was not the only thing that has helped me (and gratefully so, because then I would doubt the longevity thereof) but it certainly was pivotal and I will forever be grateful for your time. I would highly recommend this to anyone. Thank you so much."

Theresa (Johannesburg) 2008

"This workshop has truly transformed my life! While I had read books on the subject the workshop really brought these ideas and principles to life, bettering my understanding of them and their relevance to my life. The exercises in the workshop really helped me see the negative beliefs I had – some I was aware of, and some that I had no idea existed until the workshop. The exercises were facilitated in such a way that I always felt safe, feeling free to discover my beliefs and patterns, but secure in the sense that a loving and experienced facilitator was guiding my journey. The take home materials and CD’s have really allowed me to apply the techniques to my everyday life. The most important element of the workshop for me was that I felt I could truly be and explore who I really am. The environment that Gaelene creates is a warm, loving space where unconditional acceptance and safety are a given. I highly recommend this workshop to everyone, whether you are looking to make changed, or just merely want to improve your quality and understanding of life."

Lara (Johannesburg) 2007

"On a more profound note, the past week and a bit have been extremely challenging in so far as life throwing everything at me to test the newly leant belief system. It has been harrowing to say the least, but I have survived with a lot more positivity becoming my reality. I also wake up singing ‘I love myself…’ and have been doing so since last week."

Liz ( Johannesburg) 2008

"Thank you for all the support and encouragement you give so generously! We are blessed to have you!"

Karin (Johannesburg) 2008

"Just want to say thank you for the course this weekend I thought I was not going to learn something new for a youngster like you but at the end I really got emotional and that’s what I needed just to see every time is a new journey and you (ma) go with the flow with what comes up… Thank you!"

Rene (Johannesburg) 2008

"Gaelene gave me the tools and wisdom to find my truth, and to finally like the person that I am. She has a quiet, gentle strength which I came to rely on quite a bit in my journey of self discovery."

Coralee (Johannesburg) 2016

"I indeed entered a new chapter after the wonderful course I did with you three years ago. I am engaged to be married, to my ex husband. Its been a wonderful two years back together (after 5 years of divorce). Our daughters are so happy and still ‘congratulate’ us on a daily basis. Who would have thought?"

Charinne (Johannesburg) 2016

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I’m Gaelene, a qualified social worker with practices in JHB and Durban, I specialise in creating a safe space for people who feel lost and paralysed by their experiences. A space where people feel accepted and supported through their journey whilst reclaiming the greatest version of themselves.

Watch my videos to learn more.

We’re not so different, you and me, join my soul tribe and become more of who you were meant to be.