4 Steps to Take Toward Healing From Sexual Abuse
I wish I had a different story. I wish it wasn’t one of fiery trials and shameful ashes. But I don’t. My story is what it is. But, what I do have is the power to decide how my story will end. And you do too. We can choose our future by:
- Choosing to no longer be a victim.
- Choosing to start a healing journey.
- Choosing to live life brave and free.
I’m a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I tell my story so others can draw encouragement and be inspired to start their own conversation, and eventually, gain empowerment to heal and overcome the wounds of sexual trauma.
My story is unique to me but it’s no where near uncommon. One night I went to sleep with the carefree innocence of a ten-year-old girl, and the next morning I awoke with agonizing shame and confusion. My father, childhood hero by day, had become my perpetrator by night.
Over the next seven years I was sexually molested without ever telling anyone. I believed that if I quietly endured the assaults, I would spare my other siblings from experiencing the same fate. Ah, fantasies of children. I spared no one a thing.
Today, I won’t be silent. I’ve decided that a mute survivor won’t help anyone break free from the despair of abuse. I shatter the silence to shatter the grip abuse has on others because of shame and secrecy. Instead, I raise my voice to be an echo of hope—that someone, somewhere (possibly you,) will hear of the dream of healing, wholeness, and freedom. Because it is all there and available—one can be healed from the trauma of sexual abuse.
Here are 4 Steps to take to start your breakthrough into Freedom:
- Don’t keep it a secret. – Someone said, “I’m only as sick as my secrets.” Abuse creates shame and shame creates silence. Silence makes you unhealthy so shatter the silence, exhale and let it out! When you release your story to someone safe, the domination of abuse will be broken. You don’t have to tell everyone your story. Full transparency may come after you grow stronger. But don’t be one of the women who won’t ever tell. There’s freedom in telling.
That’s Why April is an Important Month – You’re Not Alone!
To stand together… and to become aware.
There are steps to prevent childhood abuse.
- Name the Abuse – Call it what it is. Sexual Assault. Trauma. Sinned against. Raped. Recognize it for what it is. You’ve been overpowered and violated and that’s never ok. Don’t dismiss your wounds. It’s also possible that you encountered other types of abuse in addition to sexual abuse.
- Emotional abuse: intimidation, threats, humiliation, shame, dishonor, demeaning, manipulation, mockery.
- Physical abuse: domination, force, physical harm, pushing, slapping, hitting, pulling, choking, throwing.
- Verbal Abuse: name calling, yelling, screaming, putdowns, swearing, mockery, belittling, shaming,
- Financial Abuse: restricting money, hiding money, overspending, loans, stealing, controlling, deceiving.
- Don’t Minimize Abuse – The abuse happened. Be careful not to rationalize or excuse it. Recognize how the abusers deceived you and refuse to accept their twisted lies. God hates abuse. Be honest about how you’re feeling now and what you are facing as a result of your abuse. Recognize your symptoms and struggles and decide not to dismiss therm.
- Find a Safe Place if necessary. Don’t stay in an abusive environment. Get out!
Call a women’s safe shelter / BUT don’t stay in an abusive environment
As individuals, all of us have a role to play in creating safe environments. We can all:
- Intervene to stop concerning behavior
- Promote and model healthy attitudes and relationships
- Believe survivors and help them in finding support.
Help is available
You can find support from a confidential, non-judgmental source.
- To speak with someone who is trained to help, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) or chat online at rainn.org.
- Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800.799.SAFE (7233) any time, 24/7, or chat online.
- Learn more about safety planningto brainstorm ideas for safety or escape.