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If you are struggling to overcome the effects of sexual abuse, you are not alone.

SunCloud Health is ready to help

SunCloud Health offers compassionate, effective care for survivors of sexual abuse

If you or someone you love has experienced the unspeakable trauma of rape, sexual assault or long-term sexual abuse, you may wonder if life will ever be the same again.

It may be difficult to even speak about what’s happened – since words can hardly express the pain and anguish you may feel right now.

At SunCloud Health, we understand what you’re going through. Our caring, expert staff is ready to help you begin the process of rebuilding your life.

The first thing to know is that sexual abuse is not your fault. You are not responsible for the terrible things your abuser has done to you. And you deserve caring, compassionate support in telling your story – which is the first step in taking back your body, mind and spirit.

</p> <h2>WHAT IS SEXUAL ABUSE?</h2> <p>
Sexual abuse may involve a sudden and violent act such as rape or sexual assault, or a recurring situation in which you have been touched or penetrated against your will several times. In fact, you may have been enduring abuse for months or years, feeling powerless to change what’s happening to you.   The person who has harmed you may be a total stranger. But most of the time, sexual abusers are people close to us. Your abuser might be a friend, a family member, a teacher, a coach, a work colleague – even your spouse or lover.   One study shows that, of every 100 cases of sexual violence reported, 33 involve intimate partners (spouses or lovers), and another 39 involve someone the survivor describes as a friend or acquaintance.   What makes the difference between sexual abuse and healthy adult sex is the fact that you did not say “yes” to what happened. In fact, you may have fought hard to keep your abuser away! Even if you were too shocked or scared to fight back, you are not to blame for what happened. The fact that you have been forced to endure sexual contact without your consent is wrong and harmful – and you are NOT the cause.
You may be wondering if sexual abuse can happen if you didn’t actually have sex, meaning full body penetration in the act we call sexual intercourse.

Keep in mind that ANY unwanted touching, contact or conversation of a sexual nature can be considered abusive. Whatever form it takes, this abuse can be harmful to you on a physical and emotional level. It is important not to dismiss your experiences because you’re worried that someone else may not agree they were abusive. If it hurts, you need help getting over it.

Also, keep in mind that the gender of the abuser and his or her sexual orientation do not change what happened. You may be a heterosexual male or female, yet suffer abuse at the hands of someone of your same gender.


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Since sexual abuse can involve things that can’t be prosecuted, yet are emotionally harmful to people, and therefore treatment is needed.

The legal definition of sexual assault varies from state to state. In Illinois, an act of criminal sexual assault against a minor is defined as an act of sexual penetration where:

  • The abuser uses force, or threatens force against the survivor; and
  • The abuser realizes that the survivor cannot give knowing consent, or is otherwise unable to understand what is happening.

By Illinois law, a case of criminal sexual assault against a minor may involve a family member who abuses another family member who is under 18 years of age. The abuser may also be someone who is at least 17 years old and holds a position of trust, authority or supervision over a survivor aged 13 to 18. Abusers may include a teacher, pastor, coach, guidance counselor or any other adult working with youth in the community.

While the law sees sexual abuse one way, therapists see it as unwanted sexual contact that causes you harm. If you need help connecting with an attorney who can help you take legal action, we may be able to refer you to professionals who have the appropriate experience.

At SunCloud Health, we approach the treatment of sexual abuse in a caring, holistic and medically informed way. We meet you where you are and help you move forward, one step at a time.

As a very wise teacher once said, “Only when compassion is present will people allow themselves to see the truth.” Your recovery begins with compassion for yourself – which helps you understand that you are not at fault.

No matter how the sexual abuse happened, or who was involved, there is no need to blame yourself. With the right support, you can release guilt, blame and shame – and begin to rebuild your life.


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As a survivor of sexual abuse – or someone seeking help for a survivor – it may be helpful to realize that you are not alone. Literally hundreds of thousands of men and women are sexually assaulted every year in communities across the country.

  • A sexual assault happens every 98 seconds in the U.S.
  • More than 80% of all rape survivors are female, yet men are often raped or assaulted as well. Men may be less likely to seek help following the assault, perhaps due to the unfair stigma we attach to male crime survivors.
  • Survivors often suffer from depression and suicidal thoughts.
  • 94% of women who are raped will experience the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the first 2 weeks after the rape. 30% of female rape survivors will report PTSD symptoms within 9 months.
  • 33% of women who are raped think about suicide, and 13% of all female survivors try to take their own lives.
  • Approximately 70% of rape or sexual assault survivors suffer moderate to severe distress, far more than any other violent crime.
  • Survivors of sexual assault are more likely to use drugs, including marijuana, cocaine and other substances. Drug use may be a way of coping with the pain they feel in the wake of their experiences.
  • 38% of sexual abuse survivors experience work or school problems, including significant problems with a boss, coworker or peer.
  • 37% of survivors experience problems with family and friends, such as getting into arguments more frequently than before, not feeling able to trust others, and feeling less close and intimate than they felt before the abuse happened.


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Survivors of rape and sexual assault can experience a wide range of reactions. There is no “normal” for people who have endured the trauma of a rape, sexual assault or sexual abuse that unfolds over time. The only constant is the need to talk about what happened and gradually, one day at a time, do the personal work that leads to healing.

Some survivors of sexual abuse respond immediately to their experiences. Others have delayed reactions that come months, even years later. Many survivors suffer negative effects for a long period of time, while others seem to recover a little sooner. The process of healing is as unique as you are.

As a survivor of sexual violence or abuse, you may experience:

  • Strong feelings of fear whenever anything reminds you of the abuse
  • A sense of anxiety, wondering whether you will ever feel safe again
  • Remembering and reliving the assault over and over again in your mind, whether through flashbacks, nightmares or recurring thoughts
  • Problems concentrating and staying focused on the task at hand
  • Feelings of anger, guilt and hopelessness
  • Developing a negative self-image, feeling “dirty” inside or out
  • Clinical depression
  • Difficulty resting and sleeping
  • Disruptions in your relationships with family, friends and coworkers
  • Loss of interest in sex

You may be dealing with only a few of these symptoms – or all of them at once. No single pattern is “typical” when it comes to surviving sexual assault or abuse. The path to healing is personal and individual. The first step is to realize that you will need professional help in recovering your sense of self and safety. The sooner you begin, the more quickly you will find relief from the painful symptoms you are experiencing.


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The experienced team at SunCloud knows that helping you overcome sexual assault or abuse will require a blend of compassion and advanced medical and psychotherapeutic skills.

In caring for you as a survivor, we dig deep on all fronts.  We understand that the trauma you’ve endured may have caused you to turn to drugs or alcohol to deaden the pain. We will help you address all of these related factors as you enter treatment.

We also realize that psychiatric conditions such as depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts may be making life hard for you. We have a full range of effective treatment options for both men and women – and we will work with you to design the course of your therapy only after we’ve talked with you and learned more about your unique needs.

The following are types of therapy we provide for the treatment of sexual abuse:

  • Expressive and experiential therapy
  • Skills-based therapy such as DBT, ACT and CBT
  • 12-step recovery programs and facilitation
  • Education about sexual abuse and its effects on your mind, body and spirit
  • Group sessions teaching healthy interpersonal and relationship management
  • Regular psychiatric consultations
  • Family therapy, including family participation if appropriate
  • Yoga and body image therapy, when appropriate
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)

The good news is … you don’t have to walk the road alone. The caring team at SunCloud Health is ready to help you begin the healing process today.


Help is one click or call away
(866) 729-1012 Or click here to send a secure message.

As an outpatient and residential treatment center, SunCloud Health is in an ideal position to support you for as long as you agree our services are useful to you. With multiple levels of outpatient care, you may decide to stay connected through one of our aftercare outpatient groups – or you may want to continue seeing one of our individual therapists.  We are here to provide continuous, caring support for your recovery journey.


Dr. Kim Dennis, MD, CEDS, explains how SunCloud Health treats co-occurring disorders.

Though we understand fully that you don’t want to spend your life in treatment, we also know from experience that a lifetime commitment to wellness is the foundation of your well-being over the long term. We will work with you to maintain a healthy outlook, which means achieving balance, honesty, and health — physical, emotional and spiritual. Our goal is to create a care plan that you can take with you forever, wherever you may go.


Dr. Marcia Nickow, Psy.D., CADC, CGP shares her thoughts on hope for recovery at SunCloud Health.

SunCloud’s reputation is one of the highest quality providers of integrated outpatient treatment in the country. They did not disappoint me and cared for me with compassion and forgiveness. The program is highly individualized, and I had plenty of time with my therapist. I was treated medically, psychologically and spiritually by a well-trained, well-educated and highly experienced care team. I received all that I could ask for and more.

~ SCH patient

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