10 Ideas to Help You Move on from Sexual Abuse
Do you have problems connecting with men? Or with people in general? Don’t like being touched, hugged or when people are in your personal space?
What about a need to feel in control? Like whether or not people do something the exact way you specified. Maybe you have trouble with intimacy. Or maybe all of those sound like you, plus you drink, plus you can’t help binge watching TV, plus you cry yourself to sleep. Or maybe you’re just numb.
Yeah. I understand. And it’s not easy to deal with any of it. And sometimes it can feel like it’s been a long time and you “should” be over it already, which makes you feel even worse.
I have struggled with all of those at one point in time. And the truth is most of that comes from recovering from some type of abuse. Yep… you might have thought you moved on but chances are if you deal with anything listed above, you haven’t quite moved beyond it yet.
And that’s okay. Healing takes time and the journey is different for everyone. I’m here to help with some practical ideas.
First I want you to know, I completely understand and sympathize. I understand the guilt, the pain, the fear, the triggers and the avoidance. Healing from my past sexual trauma has been one of the most difficult things I have done so I want to arm you with some recovery ideas that have helped tremendously in my own healing journey.
A Necessary Mindset Shift
I want you to know… you are absolutely not to blame for what happened to you. It is not your fault. You didn’t deserve it and you didn’t cause it to happen.
And I also want you to know… you are no longer a victim.
You have the power inside of you to heal from your past trauma completely. You have the ability to reclaim your power.
You get to decide whether or not to continue to give the trauma power over your life.
You can overcome the triggers and the anxiety. You can feel safe, confident and comfortable in your own skin again. You can move beyond your depression, beat your addictions, and heal fully. Your past trauma does not have to define your life.
And to start moving forward, you need to become aware and start addressing things as they come up. It takes time, patience and a willingness to address the trauma. There will likely be resistence and a good amount of tears, but your life will be so much greater without the pain you carry now.
Now, here are some practical strategies to help you begin your own healing journey.
10 Practical Strategies to Begin Healing
1. 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. A journal can allow the same benefits as though you were talking to another person in a safe, non-threatening way. It helps you release the stress, anxiety and emotions that are derived directly from the abuse without feeling judged. If you aren’t ready to open up to another person, this will certainly help you begin to process and clear your emotions.
However, you should still write in your journal even if you have previously told someone. It will help you feel and understand yourself and what you’re going through a little better. It truly does help you gain clarity, process emotions, and relieve stress.
2. Consider Talk Therapy.
I really do recommend this. A therapist you resonate with who specializes in sexual trauma can provide insights and an outlet to get all your emotions and fears out. They can be an incredible asset on your journey to healing.
However, this does take some willingness to do this. You really have to want to take this step and that may take some time. There’s nothing wrong with that. 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.
3. Tell someone. It doesn’t matter if it’s your best friend, your mom, a co-worker, your family, therapist — anyone you feel safe confiding in — talking about the trauma you experienced can be healing on its own. It can be incredibly empowering having someone listen to you and support you.
Talking about the experience may not be easy, I totally understand that. But having someone in your corner while you talk it out can make all the difference. You are not alone.
4. Forgive them and forgive yourself.
This is by far the most difficult part of healing. I think it’s moreso forgiving yourself rather than the other person — but that’s just me.
Forgiveness isn’t for the other person, it’s for your benefit. Forgiving them allows you to reclaim your own power. You’re releasing the power the other person has over you and you stop allowing it to affect you.
Forgiveness does NOT mean you let the person that harmed you back into your life or that you suddenly allow yourself to trust that person. Forgiveness means that you will not allow the trauma to affect your relationships with people who haven’t harmed you.
Forgiving yourself brings you peace and freedom. You can finally look at yourself in the mirror and love yourself even after experiencing something so devastating.
Your abuser didn’t take your soul, they didn’t take who you are as a person. Sometimes 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 the strength to forgive yourself. Again, this is hard. It can take time and patience. But it’s worth it and I know you can do it!
5. Be mindful of your surroundings.
Why? It seems odd, but after you experience a traumatic event, it’s common to want to drink more, party and even put yourself in dangerous situations — at least it did for me. It’s usually because of the way you view yourself afterward and can also be an attempt to escape or numb the pain, distracting you so you don’t have to think about it.
I am NOT mentioning this as a way to alter your decisions, condemn you for it or judge you. I simply want you to be aware when you’re out there partying and be mindful of your surroundings. Always know where you are and know who are with. 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’ll have a better chance of surviving or escaping the situation. This might seem like common sense, but when we’re drinking, most of us tend not to care. Please just be mindful of your surroundings.
6. Watch the alcohol intake.
Drinking won’t stop the pain, it doesn’t take anything away. It doesn’t make your life better and certainly doesn’t make you forget about what happened. It can actually make 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 while you’re healing 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.)
7. Start doing some self-care on your own.
Being alone after abuse is super hard, but part of the journey to fully healing is learning 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.
8. Don’t date for a while.
I know! This is hard because you probably feel alone and want to be protected. But your baggage will likely spill over to your relationship. Relationships can be hard work and you may 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 finding happiness within yourself and with someone else requires you to know how to be alone, especially after something like sexual abuse.
9. Don’t have sex for a while.
(I know!) You may not even want to be intimate for a while, but even when you start to feel like you can, you may want to try to refrain.
After experiencing trauma, your view of sex may change and you could begin feeling like you’re only good for sex and that’s the only way you can make another person happy. That’s generally a direct reflection of the way you feel about yourself. If you don’t care about yourself, then you may begin running around doing whoever you want and jumping from fling to fling, rarely finding a more fulfilling or satisfying connection.
The best decision is to find love and respect for yourself again and try not to jump into having sex with whoever, whenever. It will make things worse in the end. You will feel used and worthless. These are symptoms from the trauma.
10. Start talking about your personal experience with others.
Helping others that have experienced similar trauma by sharing your own story can be empowering and healing for both you and the other person. Talking about your circumstances and what happened to you can help someone else through their own trauma and can allow both of you to feel less alone. It helps you come back to earth. It’s as if that person was put in your path for a reason so you can step out of yourself and help someone else heal, too.
Tying it Together
Ultimately, I want you to heal fully and completely. I want you to find freedom and peace and recovering from sexual abuse is a huge step to drastically improve your life. I want you to reclaim your power and love yourself.
You didn’t deserve what happened. I’m endlessly sorry for the pain you went through. But I want you to know you CAN move on, recover and live an amazing, full and free life. It takes work, time and patience, but making a complete recovery is absolutely possible. I promise it is.
If you ever feel like you can’t tell someone, please contact me. I’m here for you. Please know you are not alone.
Take one of these ideas and implement it into your life today. Whether it’s a journal or being aware of your surroundings when you go out, you’ve taken a step toward healing. And when you start on your path to healing, and you feel comfortable enough to share your progress, use #asfreeasyousee. I would love to see you and cheer you on.
Remember: you are ALWAYS worth the work!
Take a strong first leap in your healing journey right now and begin recovering from the trauma in your past by entering your name and email address below to receive my healing email series and unleash your inner Badass Warrior Goddess today.
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