Have problems connecting with men? Or with people in general? Don’t like being touched hugged or people in your personal space? What about all the stuff you have to control? Like whether or not people do something the exact way you told them? Maybe you have trouble with intimacy. Or maybe you’re all of those plus drinking plus binge watching TV, crying yourself to sleep or just numb.
Yeah. I understand. And it’s not easy to deal with any of it. And it’s not easy to admit to yourself because it’s been so much time or you should be over it already. I was truly all of those at one point in time. And the truth is most of that comes from recovering from some type of sexual abuse. Yep.. you might have thought you moved on but chances are if you deal with anything listed above you haven’t quite moved on. That’s okay. Because I’m here to help with some practical ideas.
First I want you to know, I have been in so many sexually abusive situations that recovery has been one of the most difficult things I have done and still work on today. So I want to provide some recovery ideas that have helped tremendously
First let’s get into the mindset shift.
You Are No Longer the Victim
So you’re probably thinking but I am the victim. And that’s true to an extent. However you WERE the victim. Only during the act of the abuse are you the victim. After the abuse it is a choice to continue to be the victim. That doesn’t mean what happened gets erased or that you shouldn’t seek justice or whatever the case may be. It means that you decide whether or not to continue to give that person power over your life. Yes. Power… control over you. By staying angry, playing the victim, being depressed, having anxiety- lets that person, the abuser, have power over your life. No matter how long it’s been. Don’t believe me? Do you still have dreams about what happened? Still don’t do certain things because of that situation? Don’t go certain places? Don’t trust certain people? (Personal examples: Up until about 3 months ago I wouldn’t get a massage because of the vulnerable position I would be in. And up until about 2 years ago I wouldn’t let strangers or friends hug me hi/bye. If I did, it was rare.) Those are symptoms from the abuse. They still control your life. Therefore the abuser still has control over you and what you do and the way you live your life. And you want to know the truth? They probably haven’t thought twice about you and your life and what’s wrong with you and how it affected you. They are probably living their lives doing whatever while you are still stuck in the victim mindset.
So what do you do? Well now that I have said that and you have read that (you’re hopefully still willing to read.) your brain will start noticing certain things. And the only way to move forward is to be aware and start addressing things as they come up. It takes time and patience. And willingness to address the baggage. There might be some tears but the after is much greater than the pain you carry now or when you’re addressing the baggage. But I am going to provide you some practice to help with your recovery.
10 Tips to Recovery
Start a journal. You’re probably thinking seriously? Let me explain. Write everything down. Write about the way you feel, your dreams, your triggers, your emotions, situations, your journey, things people said to you etc. So you can feel as if you’re talking to someone. It helps you release the stress and anxiety and emotions that are derived directly from the abuse without feeling judged. If you aren’t ready to open up to someone this will certainly help you get your emotions out there. Write in your journal even if you have told someone. It will help you feel and understand yourself and what you’re going through a little better. It truly does help in general. But it will certainly help during this period of your life. (And if you want more on journaling- click here.)
You can go to therapy. I really do recommend this. A therapist can provide insights and an outlet to get all your emotions and fears out. They really can be helpful. But the reality is it does take some willingness to do this. You really have to want to take this step and that might actually take some time. There’s nothing wrong with that. Just realize this isn’t something most people jump on the second they’ve been abused. Why? Because of the shame and stigma that is around being sexually abused. That might be an old-school mentality but it’s still there. If you’re not ready, that’s okay. Don’t discredit the idea. Wanting to go? Good. Go. Just don’t feel ashamed for getting help. It will change your life.
Tell someone. I doesn’t matter if it’s your best friend, your mom, a co-worker, your family, therapist, whoever it is, tell someone. You must tell someone. Because if you don’t you will bottle up the way you feel and that leads to a much darker path. Like drugs, alcohol, suicide, etc. This may not be easy, I totally understand that. But find a way to be willing to tell someone because you need to have at least one person around that can support you through your journey on this. Unfortunately, most people know what this is like to some extent or another. So don’t feel like you’re alone. Because chances are you’re not.
Forgive them and forgive yourself. This is by far the most difficult part of recovery. I think it’s more so forgiving yourself rather than the other person-but that’s just me. Once you forgive yourself and the other person you more than half way through the recovery. Forgiving them gives you power back. You really no longer let certain things affect you. It doesn’t mean you start trusting every single person you encounter. It means that you will not hold others responsible for the things they never did to you. Forgiving yourself brings you peace and freedom. Because you can finally look at yourself in the mirror and love yourself after something so devastating. Because they don’t take your soul, they don’t take who you are as a person. It might feel that way, but you keep your soul, you keep your drive, you keep your values and your heart. Once you see that and learn that it wasn’t your fault and you have no reason to feel shame you will find it in yourself to forgive yourself. Again, this is hard. And takes time and patience. But it’s worth it and I know you can do it!
Be mindful of your surroundings. Why? It seems odd, but once the abuse happens drinking and partying and putting yourself in dangerous situations happens more often-at least it did for me. It’s usually because of the way you view yourself. Either way, I am not going to sit here and tell you what not to do. Just be aware when you’re out there partying like that be mindful of your surroundings. Meaning know where you are and know who are with. At least be prepared to get yourself out of a situation you may not be able to control. If you are aware of what’s going on you’re in a better chance of surviving or escaping the situation. That might seem like common sense. But when we’re drinking most of us tend not care. But it’s not worth being in a worse situation.
Watch the alcohol intake. I don’t care what people say about drinking. It doesn’t take anything away. It doesn’t make your life better and certainly doesn’t make you forget about what happened. Actually, I think it makes it worse. Don’t believe me? How many times have you gone out drinking and you’re having a good ol’ time and then all of sudden you’re crying and fighting with people. That’s your subconscious letting you know that your feelings of shame are still there. I know that’s crazy but that’s reality. Drinking will not help you. Here’s a little hint on drinking during recovery or just in general. Only drink when you feel like drinking. Only drink when you feel happy or you’re in a good mood. Don’t drink alone because it spirals you down a dark hole. Don’t drink when you don’t want to, or you’re angry or emotional. Don’t let someone convince you it’s a good idea. Because it’s not a good idea. (I don’t know how many times I would do this and be crying and having a meltdown at the end of the night for no reason that was obvious to me, at the time.)
Start doing some self-care on your own. Being alone after abuse is super hard. But you won’t fully recover if you don’t learn how to be alone (again). So take yourself to the movies, get a massage, get your nails done, have a movie night, start exercising, listen to motivation videos, mediate, etc. This will help you feel like yourself again. Plus it’s a great self-esteem booster.
Don’t date for awhile. I know! This is hard because you probably feel alone and want to be protected. But your baggage will spill over to your relationship no matter what. Relationships can be hard work. Don’t make it harder because you’re jumping into a relationship for the wrong reasons. Your partner cannot save you from yourself. You really have to learn to be alone and love yourself before you can even think about being with someone else. I know that sucks. It’s so much easier to just ignore that. But you will never be happy with someone and yourself if you don’t know how to be alone especially after something like sexual abuse. (And if you want some more stuff on being single click here.)
Don’t have sex for awhile. (I know!) You probably won’t want to for awhile. But even when you start to feel like you can read this part first: It might be the case for some time. But in my experience it does change. It’s like all you want to do is make someone happy and you think it’s directly related to sex. It’s actually a direct reflection of the way you feel about yourself. If you don’t care about yourself and you have certain feelings OR think, “I am only good for sex” etc. Running around doing whoever you want is exactly what’s going to happen and don’t expect much past that. So be aware of that and try not to jump into having sex with whoever whenever. Because it will make things worse in the end. You will feel used and worthless. These are symptoms from the abuse. Let alone crying yourself to sleep afterwards. Try to understand there is a difference between intimacy and sex.
Start talking about it- your personal experience with others. Meaning start helping others that have experienced this. Don’t get into a pity party. Please do not do that. Talking about your circumstances and what happened to you can help someone else through the same thing. It helps you come back to earth. It’s like that person was put in your direction for a reason. And you can step out of yourself and help someone recover too. It will help you. It will help you realize that maybe it doesn’t have it so bad. It will show you, you aren’t alone. And helping someone else is a sure way to find forgiveness within yourself. Almost like practice what you preach.
Tying It Together
But I want you to recover. I want you to find freedom and peace and dealing and recovering from sexual abuse is a huge step to building your own life. Take control back and love yourself. You didn’t deserve what happened and I am truly sorry it happened. And I know you can move on and recover and live an amazing life. It does take work and time but I am here to show you it is possible. I promise it is. If you ever feel like you can’t tell someone then leave me a message here. You can tell me. Please know you are not alone.
Take one of these ideas and implement in your life today. Whether it’s a journal or being aware of your surroundings when you go out. Even if you send me a message to tell me, that’s action too. That’s okay. And when you start your recovery and you feel comfortable enough to share your progress use #asfreeasyousee. I would love to see you and cheer you on. Remember you’re always worth the work!