It Is Possible To Heal From Sexual Abuse!
Sexual abuse is a kind of trauma which can cause significant distress and emotional scarring to the survivor. But studies have shown that children who experience sexual abuse tend to recover quicker and with better results if they have a supportive mechanism and a caring adult – parent, teacher, or friend – consistently in their life (Sussane Babbel, 2013).
If you have ever been sexually abused, you may feel that the world has become a dirty place. You may start doubting everyone’s intentions towards you which may affect your ability to sustain other healthy relationships. It may not be easy for you to cope with this incident. In fact, you may find it difficult to describe this incident to someone you trust the most. But what you need to keep in mind always is that YOU ARE NOT ALONE and IT IS POSSIBLE TO HEAL.
Yes, it is possible to heal if the survivors adopt self healing strategies such as practicing self compassion, allowing oneself sometime to heal or seeking psychosocial help or professional assistance. One can learn to cope with what has occurred and proceed to have healthy relationships in the future.
So today, we are going to tell you about how you can support yourself in this difficult situation:
Allow yourself some time to heal:
The recovery from sexual assault varies from individual to individual. Do not stress if it’s taking you a longer amount of time to recover because this is normal. Some may need weeks, months or years to recover depending on factors such as the intensity of abuse and whether it involved violence or not.
In fact, you may find difficulty in talking about abuse to someone especially in situation where abuser is none other than your relative. You may feel shattered and embarrassed. But what you need to believe here is that YOU CAN COME OUT OF THIS TRAUMA and for this you will need to give your body and mind some time to heal no matter how long it takes!
Practice self care and self compassion:
Often we treat ourselves unkindly when bad things happen to us. Instead of offering ourselves same empathy and support that we would give to a loved one, we usually end up criticising ourselves (“I was abused because I am bad”), we start hiding from others in shame (“I am worthless”) and we get stuck with our thoughts such as “Why ME”.
Such reactions make our suffering more complicated but it’s not our fault. This is how our brains are wired to function. However, if we respond to our sufferings in a soothing and healing way we can recover smoothly and quickly. Self compassion and self care are one of the tools that can help us to become more emotionally resilient.
(Read more about Self compassion and Self care at: https://chrisgermer.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Transforming-Trauma.pdf)
You are not responsible for what happened:
Often after the incidents of sexual abuse, survivors end up blaming themselves. No matter what the situation is, everyone’s body is supposed to be respected. Everyone deserves the right to dignity, choice, equality and respect. You need to accept the fact that you did not invite the abuser. You did not encourage him/her to touch you inappropriately. It is not your fault. It is their fault, because they should have respected your body and your boundaries no matter what.
Don’t shy away from making healthy relationships
It is indeed difficult to trust people if an assault has taken place. But we need to understand the fact that everyone is different. What is more important here is that you need to know your boundaries and if these boundaries are being respected than these are signs of a healthy relationship and you may continue to trust that person. This may include your parents, friends, teachers etc.
Seek help from a Psychologist or Counsellor:
Seeking psychosocial support is really helpful and is strongly recommended for children and caregivers struggling with an incident of sexual abuse. Psychologists and counsellors are trained to use age appropriate strategies that can support individuals to cope with such trauma. Everyone needs emotional support and a professional can help you come to terms with the insecurity and doubts arising inside you after any abusive incident that has taken place.
In a nut shell, it is essential that you do not suppress your feelings related to the incident. Many a times we suppress our emotions which is unhealthy because it does not let the healing process to begin in our body. If you feel like crying, then allow yourself to cry and just be there in that moment with yourself. Offer yourself some empathy as you would like to offer to your friend who is in pain. Grieve your pain and but don’t let it define your life.