How to Find Healing From Childhood Sexual Abuse
TRIGGER WARNING - Sexual Abuse
I have an editorial calendar that I use for the blog. I downloaded a template from another blogger that helps you set up what you will write on the scheduled days you want to post.
I didn’t like the topic I chose for today, so I was just brainstorming what I might want to write about this morning. I usually look to my life and what matters to me, and I think about what might matter and interest you.
I need to remind you before I get too far into this article. I am not a therapist or a psychiatrist. I am a person that has survived childhood sexual trauma and other abuses, so I feel I can confidently speak about my true life experiences.
I have been talking to my therapist about my childhood sexual abuse lately. I hate this subject, actually. It always means a hard session, and I am emotional. I told her that my childhood abuse is an ugly scabbed-up wound, and I am a little child who MUST pick at the edges and poke and prod at it all the time. Don’t touch the scab. Leave it alone so that it can heal. (That is really not how to heal trauma!)
I love Google, and I use it SO much! Even before the blog, Google was my pre-Alexa! I just think about all sorts of questions to ask Google. So that is what I was doing this morning, and I typed in “childhood sexual abuse” as you can imagine, there are a million results from national organizations to other blogs like mine.
I found an article that I was interested in reading. It is Childhood Sexual Abuse: 13 Stages of Healing. I read through the whole article and honestly had extreme feelings about it, so I thought I would examine them here. 1st I will not copy the article here. That is wrong. I do encourage you to read it, though. The only copied part is the below bullet points.
13 Stages of Healing from Child Sexual Abuse
- The decision to heal
- The emergency stage
- Remembering the abuse
- Acknowledging it happened
- Breaking the silence
- Understanding that it wasn’t your fault
- Understanding the child victim
- Grieving the abuse
- Disclosure and truth-telling
I want to break this down from a survivor’s point of view and how I personally feel about each step.
The Decision to Heal
I think the first step to recovery from the trauma is knowing that you are being affected by it and want relief. This trauma may affect your work, relationships, mental health, or even physical.
I have come to a point in my life where I have said, “Enough!” I know I need to deal with this. Some people need time to get to this point because, to be honest, I felt sorry for myself for a long time before I was ready to heal. I was wallowing in self-pity much longer than I have been on the road to recovery.
The Emergency Stage
I didn’t understand this step. The site says it is dealing with emotions and feeling about the abuse. I honestly think that the whole healing process is dealing with these. I would say that I was in the “emergency stage” when I started having nightmares and remembering what actually happened. I don’t think that statement will make sense if you haven’t read my story yet (Uncover My Account In The Journey Of My Life).
Remembering the Abuse
This stage is related to the emergency stage to me. It was very traumatic to me when I actually remembered that it was true and that my nightmares were real memories. Details that family had told me or things I had seen in photos fit with my nightmares, and I started to question if my mind was playing games with me or if my abuser really did these horrible things to me.
Acknowledging it Happened
This is so much harder than it sounds, seriously. It is not the act of telling someone. It is the act of KNOWING it yourself. You may have flashbacks or fragmented memories and “think” something happened but don’t confirm it in your mind. When you know it happened, it is traumatizing. For recovery to start, you must know it happened to you and want to face it head-on.
Breaking the Silence
This was one of the most complex parts for me. I honestly can’t remember who I told first, it was my husband or my therapist. They were pretty much at the same time. I had been having nightmares for some time and shared what they were about with them both. I made the connection alone and did not share it immediately. Saying it out loud made it confirmed in my mind.
Understanding That it Wasn't Your Fault
I understand it wasn’t my fault, but heavy emotions of guilt, shame, and disgust accompany this horrific abuse. I also feel deeply betrayed because the abuser was a family member. I can not comprehend how someone could hurt a child like this. It sickens me and makes me embarrassed to say this happened to me. That is why I am writing this blog. I do not want other survivors to be embarrassed or ashamed. I want them to know they are perfect in themselves, NOT what happened to them.
Understanding the Child Victim
I have vivid nightmares about my child self. I can see her appearance, her exact panic, and her physical pain. When I am dreaming like this, I don’t see it as “she”; I see it as “me” I have not learned to look at it as it happened in the past yet. I am still the child waking up crying when I wake up crying. It takes a minute and a lot of prayers to get myself together and know that I am an adult and the danger is over.
Grieving the Abuse
I seriously grieve for my childhood and my teen years. I have so much time that is stripped away from my memories. I think not every second or every day must have been a nightmare. When was I happy? Did I have fun at all?? I do not remember one Christmas as a child or even school friends. I have tiny bits and pieces but nothing to hold on to.
I am sad that my adult life is not “normal” I feel cheated, and I feel like I have cheated my family too. My husband and son hear me crying. They listen to things no one should have to hear. One day, I made a terrible mistake and talked about the abuse on a video therapy visit while Joe was in the kitchen, just a few steps away. He left the room in a hurry, but it was too late!
I do not know how to be truly angry. I have inferior emotions. I get wronged or taken advantage of, and I generally am hurt, not angry. I feel hate. Maybe that is anger. I don’t know. James often asks me if I am mad at the abuse. I am baffled about how to answer that. I will leave this one as I need to work on it.
Disclosure and Truth-Telling
The article says that this is confronting your abuser. It also warns that this step is not for everyone. YEAH, it is NOT for me. Not long ago, I was afraid of the abuser every day. I was filled with fear whenever I walked out of my house, each and every time! I was diagnosed with paranoia some time ago, and these fear feelings feed into that. If my abuser were in jail or behind bars, I still would not confront them
The author of the other article says this step is to forgive yourself for self-blame, shame, and other negative emotions around the abuse. It also mentions that forgiving your abuser after a long committed recovery is possible.
I really struggle with this because I am a Christ Follower. The Bible teaches us to forgive our enemies. I WANT to forgive for that reason. God wants me to, so I should. It is not that easy, I feel forgiveness one day, and the next day I feel hate again. I give and take it back constantly. I think the best I can do is keep trying.
Speaking of God, the article states that many people who have suffered childhood sexual abuse turn to their Spirituality for comfort and support. I believe in God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I do find my relationship to be a comfort to me. I actually just wrote an article yesterday about Bible verses that help me. It is The Best List Of Bible Verses About Being Positive To Last You A Lifetime
The last one! I pray someday I get to that point. Some days I think it is in my reach, and on others, I feel like I just started this recovery journey. I pray for my fellow survivors where ever you are on this journey! I hope I can help you.
I challenge other people that have been abused to look at the list and see where they are and where they can go. I believe you can recover. I have faith that someday, I am going to actually smile about this journey and say, “WOW, Look how far I have come!” I pray that you can do that too!
To my friends who take the time to read my words, I love you! I am so thankful for your support. You mean so much to me, and I hope you know that.
Leave me a comment! I will be honest I get so excited when my cell phone chimes that someone left an engagement on my baby blog! Baby, as in it’s still new, and baby, I feel like a Momma to this thing! 🙂