How Every Woman Can Heal from Sexual Trauma in a Contradictory Society
I was a victim of sexual trauma turned thriver.
I work with women who have suffered from sexual trauma.
I have seen our society massively shift in the last few years over sexual violence, sexual abuse, sexual harassment. Thanks to the #metoo and #saveourchildren movement.
Yet we still are sending confusing messages to women who have suffered from sexual trauma. (Note that sexual trauma is anything from sexual violence to sexual harassment. We now know trauma is all dependent on the induvial and their perceptions of the world. Which means it looks different for everyone.)
As a society, we plead women and young girls to come forward about their experiences.
Why didn’t she tell the police?
Why didn’t she tell her parents?
Why didn’t her mother step in?
Why didn’t she reach out to a friend?
They could have turned to anyone.
Anyone would have helped them.
I would have helped them.
The second a woman comes forward…
It’s not true.
She’s doing it for the money.
There’s no way he did something like that.
He’s innocent until proven guilty.
It says indecent exposure now, not sexual assault. So he’s innocent.
She was asking for it.
How is any woman or young girl supposed to come forward when she hears things like this from her friends, family, co-workers, media, and so on?
How is anyone supposed to feel comfortable and safe being vulnerable in a society that tells her two different stories?
How are you supposed to be okay as a survivor and get help? How are you supposed to admit to yourself that you live in shame and guilt over what happened and heal when society sends two completely different stories?
We might tell women it’s okay to come forward.
When she does. We immediately protect the accused.
As women, we are not the victim of our circumstances.
As survivors, we must learn that our society cannot dictate whether we put ourselves first and start taking back our power.
Ladies, your time to heal will never be okay with a society that is confused with their own feelings about sexual trauma.
The truth is you playing the victim and feeling powerless to your abuser allows society to stay confused.
It’s time for change.
This is how it’s done.
- Stop calling yourself the victim. Yes, you were the victim at one point. You’re no longer the victim. Calling yourself the victim allows you to stay trapped and powerless. Call yourself a survivor. This shift allows you to take back your power just by using this language. I’m a firm believer in 3 stages of mindset in recovery—victim, survivor, and thriver. The ultimate goal is thriver. However, you can simply start shifting your mindset by calling yourself a survivor.
- Start journaling. I tell my followers they can start journaling if they aren’t ready to reach out to a professional. (Although, I highly recommend anyone dealing with unhealed trauma seek guidance from a professional.) This is how I started all my healing. My clients are required to journal. Journaling is meant to give you clarity, connection, and safe self-expression. Creating the ultimate safety net while you’re healing.
- Be aware. You must be aware of what triggers you, what reminds you of what happened, how your behavior is based on this trauma, etc. The more aware you are, the easier it is to heal. It’s not easy to see some of these things, but it’s worth it. When you’re triggered, see it as a healing opportunity. See it as a chance to take back your power and transform your life. The best way to handle a trigger– watch it like it’s a movie. Like it’s not you in the movie.
- Create a safe and sacred space. For survivors, this physical or mental space is critical for your healing. When you’re triggered, go to this place, feel like hurting yourself, having a bad day, and so on. If you can create both physical and mental space, the better. You can’t always turn to your physical space when you’re at work, in class, in the movies, etc.
- Set healthy boundaries. I know this is hard to do. Especially if family members were involved with the abuse in some way. You must set boundaries with anyone and anything that is setting you off or not conducive to your healing. This might be with drugs, alcohol, friends, family, and so on. Healthy boundaries must be something you’re comfortable with enforcing. How can you set boundaries? Figure out what you like and don’t like. I’ve learned boundaries aren’t just about saying no. It’s about creating a structure for your life. What will you deal with and not deal with? What will you stand for and not stand for? Think of it that way. Rather than you must say no.
I know that our society is making headway with healing for women. Yet, we still send confusing messages to women who come forward or speak out. Sexual trauma, no matter what kind, has a lasting impact on one’s life. The impact is so complex that if it goes unhealed, the effects are passed down to the next generation. I don’t necessarily mean the cycle repeating. I mean the lack of self-worth, feeling guilty, and shameful all the time. Afraid of our bodies, fearful of speaking up, afraid of hurting people’s feelings. Those things get passed down to the next generation.
If we really want to save our children, if we really want society to change, then we as women must heal from sexual trauma completely. As a fellow survivor, it can be done. Fully. We must start at home. Otherwise, we will continue to send confusing messages to survivors. Keeping them in silence. Creating even more shame around the subject.
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