5 Powerful Things To Keep In Mind When You’re Healing From Sexual Trauma
You feel a lot of shame. You don’t know how to talk about what happened. Sometimes you hate yourself or the person who hurt you or everyone around you. Or maybe you don’t even feel hate anymore. Instead, you feel entirely numb. You cycle through all of these feelings and you just don’t know how to move forward.
Sexual trauma doesn’t discriminate against who it impacts. The experience of sexual trauma can be gut-wrenching. The profound shame it causes can make it very hard to identify the emotions you are feeling. These emotions might include thoughts of inferiority, disgust, and being unlovable.
Many people healing from trauma find themselves stuck in their recovery process. When this happens, it is easy to blame yourself or feel hopeless about the future. Therefore, it is easy to feel broken. It is easy to worry that things will never get better. But please remember the following five things:
It Wasn’t Your Fault
Do you find yourself replaying what happened over and over again? Maybe you wonder if you had made different choices, would you have escaped what happened to you?
Ruminating (thinking) over the past can be a common symptom of sexual trauma. But it tends only to prolong feelings of guilt and shame. You are not responsible for the trauma that was inflicted upon you. Even if you were in a bad situation or you were spending time with someone who wasn’t good for you, the abuse was not your fault.
Remind yourself as often as you need to hear it. Sexual trauma isn’t about what you did (or didn’t do). Above all, it is important to remember it’s completely about the decision someone else made.
It’s Okay To Feel Whatever You Are Feeling
Maybe you feel intense rage towards the person who hurt you. Maybe you’re experiencing lots of sadness or grief. Perhaps you feel completely numb.
There isn’t a “normal” response to trauma. It’s reasonable to cycle through emotions after experiencing sexual trauma. No emotion is “better” or “worse” than another. They are all healthy and normal reactions.
Remind yourself that your emotions are just emotions. Your emotions do not have to dictate your actions. They do not have to dictate your self-esteem or self-worth. They are emotions. In other words, they are impulses responding to what happened.
There Is No Perfect Timeline For Healing
Many people think they need to heal from sexual trauma in a certain timeframe. Some even believe they should be able to forget about what happened.
These seem like good goals but they’re not. Trauma doesn’t just disappear. Healing happens on an individual basis. And it rarely happens according to a plan.
Trust that your healing process will guide you into the right places. It’s not about “getting over” what happened. It is about learning how to find your new sense of meaning. Also, it’s about building resilience, self-forgiveness, and compassion.
Finally, healing is about coming into a place of acceptance. Acceptance doesn’t mean accepting or supporting the sexual trauma that happened to you. You don’t have to be “okay” with it. Acceptance simply means you acknowledge what happened and you recognize you cannot change it.
Your Sense Of Normal May Change (And That’s Okay)
Sexual trauma can shatter definitions of love, trust, safety, friendship, and dating. It can make you question every movement, person, and event in your day. Your defenses might be up. But they are up for a good reason!
Your life will likely change after the trauma. But that doesn’t mean it has to change “for the worse.” To clarify, it simply means that you may think of yourself, others, and the world around you differently.
Many people want their lives to “go back to normal” after a trauma happens. While this can happen, “normal’ can be hard to identify. And it may not always be the healthiest of goals. Your thoughts, feelings, and attitude may change. Therefore, the more you resist change, the more you may be making healing harder.
You are allowed to ask for help
It doesn’t matter if the sexual trauma happened five hours ago or five years ago. Also, it doesn’t matter if it was a stranger, spouse, or relative. All circumstances are different. So there isn’t a list of what “hurts” more.
Please ask for help if you are struggling and need practical solutions for feeling better. Ask for help if you feel like your emotions are overpowering you. You can ask for help if you need to talk, cry, or scream.
Lean on your support people during this time. Your loved ones are very important. But it may be time to consider reaching out for professional trauma therapy. Sexual trauma is disturbing and complex. Therefore, it can seriously compromise your emotional well-being. You may experience symptoms of PTSD. Most importantly, Trauma Therapy offers you a safe, confidential space to share your feelings without judgment or expectations. In addition, it provides you with a roadmap for healing, especially when you’re feeling stuck.
Final Thoughts On Healing From Sexual Trauma
Sexual trauma doesn’t have to define your present or your future. You are capable of healing and growth. Moreover, you are deserving of love, happiness, and freedom.
Are you in need of support? Are you feeling hopeless, or ashamed? Is it challenging to focus on daily activities or relationships? Trauma therapy can help you process through these feelings and reactions.
Begin Therapy for Sexual Trauma in Nashville, TN
If you are a survivor of sexual trauma of any kind (rape, sexual assault, childhood sexual abuse, etc.) and are ready to begin your healing journey towards regaining control, counseling can help. Our caring therapists understand the devastating impact sexual violence can have. Just as importantly, we understand the healing process and want to help you get unstuck from the terror you experienced. Through counseling, you can begin moving forward in your life.
Follow these three easy steps to learn more about therapy for sexual trauma at our Nashville, TN counseling office:
- Contact our counseling office to schedule a free 30-minute face-to-face consultation,
- Meet with one of our trauma therapists, and
- Begin healing from sexual trauma and find peace in your life.
Other Services offered at Willow Counseling in Nashville, TN
Our Nashville counseling clinic provides quality trauma-informed counseling to our community. Willow Counseling recognizes the interconnectedness of our emotional, spiritual and physical selves. In addition, we offer a variety of other mental health services to help you on your healing journey including help for anxiety, trauma and EMDR therapy, therapy for compassion fatigue, and group therapy for anxiety. Our therapists want to help you. Most importantly, our greatest desire is for you to know what it means to feel purpose and joy again and to recognize the strength and worth you have to offer the world.