It’s tough to talk about sexual abuse! – We hear from LGBT therapist Stephen Hanscomb

sexual abuse

This year, we’ve seen more headlines about sexual abuse, assault, harassment or rape than ever before. As a therapist working with gay men, I know how much it takes to talk to another person about historical childhood sexual abuse, or even to admit to ourselves that we have been raped as an adult when at a party or with a casual hook-up. Alcohol, drugs and sex can be an dangerous mix, with alarming levels of GHB related abuse being reported. We all want to enjoy ourselves, but when things get out of hand – sexual assault, overdose and even death can result.

It takes a lot to talk about sexual abuse, whether it be something that happened when we were young, or a situation we found ourselves in as an adult. Fear of being judged, feeling shame or guilt as result of some thing we’ve done, or simply struggling to change our behaviour, can stop us seeking the help we need.

Research has shown that LGBT+ young people suffer increasingly high levels of discrimination, abuse and mental health issues, with 1 in 5 experiencing some form of sexual abuse and almost 80% not receiving any form of support or help to deal with it (Metro Youth Chances Report 2016). Being sexually abused as a child affects us in complex ways; how we relate to others sexually, our ability to trust others in the relationships we desire, as well as how we relate to our own bodies, our sense of self esteem, confidence and even our sexuality.

Relationships can be difficult if your partner encourages sexual activity that you find abusive or uncomfortable. We can be drawn into excessive alcohol and/or drug use that leads to addiction and self-harming behaviour that can have a detrimental impact on our wellbeing, relationships, friendships and careers.


By taking the steps to find someone to speak to, in a place we feel safe to do so, we can discover more about who we are, what we do and the choices we make. For gay men, talking about our issues can often free us from years of marginalisation and isolation, by addressing childhood issues around sexual abuse, bullying and homophobia, we can learn to free ourselves from the underlying pressures and anxieties that often dominate and leave a lasting negative impact on our adult lives.

If you would like to talk, please contact me for a free initial consultation:
Stephen Hanscomb
T: 0203 409 9578
E: [email protected]

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