According to the Merriam-Webster’s dictionary of law and the American heritage new dictionary of cultural literacy, the meaning of sexual abuse is to engage in sexual contact with a person who is below a specified age or who is incapable of giving consent because of age or mental or physical incapacity, by using coercion or threats.
It can also be defined as a sexual act, which is deemed improper or harmful, as between an adult and a minor or between persons too closely related to marry as between a parent and a child or brother and sister.
Very often, young and innocent children are forced into a non-consensual sexual relationship through coercion or threats. Such children suffer from a very low self-esteem, gradual withdrawal from friends and family, difficulty in developing relationships, failure to develop, sustain and flourish. Such children are usually hyperactive, tend to inflict physical injuries upon themselves, and demonstrate abusive behavior to themselves or to others. They carry a lot of apprehensions and are constantly cautious with pleasing adults, scared to stay alone in the company of strangers and avoid adults who appear to be a threat.
Music therapy aids in improving self-esteem of the victim, reduces levels of stress, anxiety and fear in the victim, improves the inherent stress management capacity and also build’s up the ability of an individual to cope with stress. It also enhances the social skills of the victim, helps develop free communication and expression of feelings, encourages independent thinking and decision making skills, and adopts a non-abusive lifestyle. Music acts as a tool for relaxation and provides the necessary impetus to come out of one’s cocoon and discuss the incidents that have caused emotional disturbance to the victim. When used for a prolonged period of time, music therapy also allows erasing away all the feelings of guilt, aggression, anger, helplessness, fear, and apprehension from the victim’s mind and restores a state of normalcy and peace.
Music therapy sessions for sexually abused children are usually provided in a group because eventually, the victim embraces the group readily, after a brief period of hesitation. The group acts as a strong support system for each member of the group and also acts as a platform where mutual experiences can be shared and case studies discussed. Gradually, the healing power of music therapy begins to reflect the positive changes in several ways — the lost self-esteem is regained, social ties developed, and the victim gets cured both emotionally and physically.