Feeling the Pain denied the thought that I could have further complications from sexual abuse saying, “I’ve dealt with it, and I’m healed. There’s nothing more to talk about.” I was terrified to consider the residue of sexual abuse and how it had harmed me.

I’m not alone. Many survivors tend to minimize or dismiss the impact of their abuse by reasoning, “Oh it’s in the past. It’s no big deal.” Others deny that the sexual abuse took place at all. The pain is too deep and overwhelming to face. When the slightest reminder of abuse triggers a woman, she’s often stricken with anxiety, panic attacks, and depression. These disturbing feelings are usually traumatic enough to send her back into denial.

If a survivor takes the “it’s-no-big-deal” approachto her abuse or ignores it altogether, her denial can mean she’s still emotionally frozen and disconnected from her pain. She’s not ready to accept the idea of exploring how the sexual exploitation may have affected her, and in truth, is still affecting her.

You may share the same fear that many survivors harbor. If I allow myself to feel, re-live, or experience this pain, I will completely unravel and become incapable of handling life.

Although the statement above feels true at times, coming out of denial and feeling the pain of abuse is healthy and a powerful step toward healing. And you don’t have to unravel emotionally, even physically to experience recovery. On the contrary, processing your abuse trauma will empower you. Although you may temporarily feel some symptoms as you un-thaw, healing is on the other side, and you are closer to “owning your life” instead of being held hostage by the trauma of the past.

It’s worth the journey.

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