If you were sexually abused as a child, you are not alone and you are not to blame. The following are ideas and resources that other survivors have found helpful in their recovery. Please remember recovery is an individual process and you can learn to trust that your choices will be right for you.*
- Tell: Sharing your stories with people who listen in a supportive and understanding manner is crucial to recovery. Look for safe people you can trust. You get to decide who to tell, what to tell, when to tell, and how to tell. Most survivors experience tremendous relief and are able to begin the healing process once they have revealed their secret.
- Build Your Support Network: Develop a network of supportive friends, family members, and/or professionals who can be available to you to offer support when you need them. Find out who is available before you are in crisis so when the crisis hits your support network will be in place.
- Emergency List: Keep a list that includes ideas for getting your needs met and taking care of yourself in the event that you are re-traumatized. It might include simple suggestions like breathing, calling a friend, hugging a stuffed animal, or going to a predetermined safe place.
- Self-Care: As you progress in your recovery, make learning healthy self-care a priority. When we were abused, we were taught to put our needs last. Healthy self-care varies from person to person. It can include such things as nourishing our bodies with enjoyable, healthy food; getting rest when we need it; allowing ourselves to be touched in ways that feel comfortable and safe; taking warm baths; or perhaps buying ourselves a gift.
- Be Gentle with Yourself: Healing takes time–we don’t get there overnight. We can set a goal of treating ourselves with the same compassion and understanding as we would extend to others who have been wounded and are in a healing process. We can gradually learn to love ourselves better and have patience with ourselves as we progressively replace old, unhealthy habits with a new way of living.
*This information is not meant to be a substitute for a consultation with a counselor or psychotherapist.