Recovery: 3 Tips to Telling Someone About Your Abuse
When you finally decide to start healing and recovering from childhood sexual abuse you never really know what’s actually entailed. Sure, people say go to therapy, read some books, stop drinking, so on and so on. But until you’re actually in the moment, until you consciously make a decision, the process of doing is entirely different than anything you’ll ever expect.
It had taken me years to remember my abuse took place. When I remembered it happening, I seriously thought awareness would be enough. Plus I was already healing in general. I didn’t need to specifically work on the abuse from childhood. So wrong! 2 years later and pregnant with my daughter, brought on flashbacks and dreams and an intense fear the cycle would repeat and there was nothing I could do. (If you want more on the back story on my pregnancy journey you can read it here.)
About 3 weeks after finding out I was pregnant I started working with my spiritual shaman, Johanna Burkhardt. I’m so glad I did, because it really helped me fast track my recovery from abuse. If it weren’t for this work, I really believe I wouldn’t have even bothered to recover from my childhood sexual abuse. I would have believed I was okay.
Anyway, after the last 6 months, I’ve really focused on some major things. One of them being One the Most Important Lessons I’ve Learned in my life, letting go of control, and digging deep through my abuse. During this time, I’ve started to heal many wounds like shame, and feelings of unworthiness which made ALL my past decisions for me. But I also have changed my mentality, which you can read about how to change yours- click here. Lastly telling people I love about the abuse.
I don’t know you’re story specifically, but I imagine if you’re reading this you probably are pretty numb to feelings, pretty numb to trusting people, and depending on people. All my life I’ve done everything my DAMN SELF. It’s lead to crazy amounts of isolation and not knowing how to receive. Not only that, but it is has hindered by ability to share the way I truly feel. To trust I’m not going to be judged. Sh*t, trust that someone is actually going to believe what I say! There is a lot of fear that comes with telling someone: What happens if they don’t believe me, what happens if they ask questions I can’t answer, what if they think I’m different, what if it changes the way they look at me? Seriously, that’s just some of the thoughts I had. But my biggest fear was being vulnerable. Why did I have to do that? I learned of course, it was in my best interest and so it began.
Before I give you the tips, I want to say a few things. Telling your loved ones really does help you heal. It might be hard and draining, but you’ll feel better. It might make you feel uncomfortable and freak you out for a couple of days. But after that it seems to set you free. I also suggest telling the people who will support you and love you no matter what. I know that might be hard to judge and some people may not after you tell them. That’s all on them! Don’t trip if they don’t. I also want to mention, I told one person about the abuse. Then, 2 years later, I told the father of my child. (Not by choice, it seemed to me. But there was so much fear of a repeated cycle, I needed him to be aware if I was projecting that on to him), then my OBGYN, then my therapist, then my mother, my father, and my sister. I went from telling one person from 2 years ago to telling 6 people in 6 months. It’s been a little intense around here. But worth it. Then I wondered how can I share my story and share what I learned to help others?
Some of this is easier said than done. But it does help to get some real insights on what other people did to overcome something like this.
Here are the 3 tips to telling someone about your abuse.
Don’t have any expectations of their reaction or how the conversation will go. Don’t get me wrong, when I finally decided I was going to tell my baby daddy, I’m pretty sure I had 99 hypothetical situations going on in my head that could happen. How I wanted it to happen. I also knew, that people do not know the script you’re writing and don’t really play their parts! When I went into the conversation I had no idea how I was going to be or what I was going to say. It turned out to be the most uncomfortable conversation I had. I was very cut and dry about what happened. With zero emotion. Which I thought I was going to be the complete opposite and I was going to cry my eyes out and I was gonna tell him all these things! NOPE! I did not. And I thought he was going to be a little more supportive and comforting! I was wrong about that too. What were the first words of his mouth? I hope you don’t project that onto me. (I was like really mother f*cker? I’m pretty sure I’m trying to prevent that by making you aware, just in case it does happen. I didn’t say that though. Even though I wanted to. The old me would have!!) This is exactly why you don’t want to have expectations of their reactions. Because some people may not know how to handle being told any of this. They might say weird or stupid things. Because they’re uncomfortable. It really has nothing to do with you. Try to keep that in mind.
Be in a comfortable setting. I talked about my abuse mostly in my house. My territory type of deal. With the exception of my therapist and my OBGYN. However when speaking to my OBGYN, I asked both my mother and my baby daddy to leave the room. I told her alone. That was the most comfortable I was going to get at that point. You want to be comfortable so you feel okay with being vulnerable, with crying, screaming, getting angry. I must say, I didn’t get emotional like that, but sometimes it might happen. And you might need it to happen. So be in a place where you won’t have to worry about what other people are thinking. (No, it shouldn’t matter in the first place, but it will deter you from fully speaking the things you need, if you’re concerned about a scene or being uncomfortable.)
You’re not required to provide details or answer questions you’re not ready to answer. This is important because some of us might think we’re required to give out all the freaking answers when we don’t really know ourselves. You don’t have to know all the answers nor do you have to answer questions about the details. When I told my OBGYN I just told her when it took place, I was going to counselling, and reading a book called: When Survivors Give Birth. That was enough. She didn’t pry, she didn’t make me feel ashamed. She wanted to make sure I felt good about telling her. She told me she was happy I shared that with her because it could possibly cause problems during labor. When I told my mom, she wanted answers and details. I was like: I don’t really know what to say. Because I disassociated every single time. (Disassociation is a defense mechanism where you basically check out of your body mentally and go to some place.) When my mom went to a therapy session, with me, I just explained to her I was worried if I started digging like that the answers and the details would appear and set me back. That I felt grateful I didn’t know all the details and I didn’t want it to retrigger me because she had questions. And that was that. You’re not required to provide more than you’re comfortable with. This is your journey. You need to recover as you see fit, as what feels good to you.
You might be thinking: I was expecting more black and white answers. The truth? I can’t give you black and white answers. Healing from sexual abuse is a lot grey area. Because everyone that has been through it has a different experience, remembers different things, coped differently. No 2 stories are alike in that sense. Which is why the answers are meant to ease you into sharing with your loved ones. Meant to let you know, that it’s been done before and someone survived. After all the fear, all the hypotheticals, all the questioning of oneself. All of it. All the anxiety. Everything. Telling people is possible and surviving telling people is also possible. It’s scary and can be draining but possible.
Telling your loved ones and important people is something you can do. It should be done as part of your healing, even if you’re like me and swear you’re taking that sh*t to the grave. You can share with ease by not having any expectations, telling loved ones in a space where you’re comfortable and only sharing what you’re comfortable with sharing. I know how hard this can be, but the work is worth it. The other side of the trauma is pure peace and freedom. It is possible to heal and starts with you.
Have questions? Have a story? Write a comment below! Let’s connect.