Sexual violence is one of the most traumatic events you can experience. Someone decides to take advantage of you, and it leaves you feeling broken. However, you don’t have to stay broken. Healing after sexual assault is doable. Not only that, but you can start enjoying sex again! Yes, even if that sounds like a distant dream. So, let’s find all about the tools that will help you heal.
Know That Your Feelings Are Valid
Feeling entirely invalid is something all too real when it comes to healing from this kind of sexual trauma. These events can make you feel like it’s all your fault. Sadly, bad feelings don’t stop there. Guilt is accompanied by shame and feelings of loss.
Pushing those feelings away is probably something everyone would do. It’s simply an automatic reaction. Our brain doesn’t know how to deal with it all, so it shuts everything out. You might feel scared, sad, angry, and everything in between. However, all of those feelings are completely valid. Not only that, but you should embrace them completely.
It could be hard for a while, but that is only the beginning when it comes to healing after sexual assault. Once you understand and feel all there is to feel, you’ll be able to move on to other steps.
Have More Compassion for Yourself
With feelings of guilt comes feeling extremely bad about yourself. That will cause you to go over the event so many times. Maybe you’ll be looking for the reason why it happened or thinking about the things you should’ve done. However, the guilt will be there whatever you do.
Unfortunately, survivors of sexual assault are almost forced into this kind of thinking. The media and society constantly claim that these assaults are the survivor’s fault, to begin with. If only you didn’t wear that outfit, if only you didn’t do this or that, etc. The list will go on and on. To battle these feelings, all you need to do is replace them with compassion for yourself.
Having compassion means treating yourself like you would treat a friend in the same situation. Tell yourself it’s not your fault because it truly isn’t. You were simply at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Seek Professional Help
This is, by far, the most important step. However, it isn’t always as easy as people might think. It’s easy for them to tell you that you should seek help. When it comes to actually doing it, it takes a lot of courage.
To drive the point home, it’s not unusual for survivors to think everyone will judge them for opening up about what happened. Remember victim blaming? That will always exist. Whenever you try to tell your story, people ask, “But what were you doing to provoke these events?” and who says that a therapist won’t do the same?
But they won’t. A therapist is there to help guide you on your healing path. They cannot judge you. It’s not their place to do it. All they can do is listen and give you tools that will help you overcome what happened.
Find a Support System
Finding a support system is something that either comes before or after getting a therapist. Sometimes, you simply don’t feel like you can trust anyone. Yes, that includes friends and family. That’s especially the case if they have a history of making snarky comments whenever sexual assault or abuse comes up as a talking point.
However, you do need some kind of support. It can be your partner, closest friends, cousins, or siblings. We’re purposely avoiding parents because we know how hard it can be to tell them about something like this. Still, it’s important to pick your inner circle carefully.
When we say friends, we don’t only mean IRL friends. Online friendships are all too real, and sometimes you feel closer to people that live far away from you. Choose your people carefully, but do find someone to confide in.
We know this sounds like something you would hear in yoga class, but it’s true. Practicing mindfulness can help you better your life in general. It keeps you grounded, aware, and thinking of the present rather than the past. There’s no need for you to be spiritual to understand this simple concept, either.
So, how does this work? Practicing mindfulness allows you to focus on how you feel right now. It’s easy and inviting to think about how you felt back then, but what do you gain from that? Absolutely nothing. Instead, let’s focus on how you feel in the present moment.
Furthermore, this kind of progressive thinking will help you identify your feelings, as well as find ways to deal with them proactively. This is something your therapist can teach you if you’re struggling to do it yourself. As always, practice makes perfect, so keep at it.
Identify Your Triggers
This part has both a positive and a negative side. Identifying your triggers can be tough. Why? Well, it’s simple. You will definitely be triggered and sent back through time to a place where you felt most vulnerable. With that, a lot of negative emotions will surge back, and it will often get overwhelming.
Identifying triggers, however, is best done when you’re in therapy. Your therapist will be able to understand them better and help you overcome them. But how is this done exactly? Through practicing mindfulness. Everything really revolves around identifying your feelings and dealing with them.
When you find your triggers, it’s natural to avoid them completely. You don’t want to mentally go back there. With time, though, you’ll be able to not only face but overcome them entirely. It will take a bit of time, depending on how fast or slow you want to take it, but don’t give up.
Find Things That Make You Happy
Lastly, not everything is dull and dark. You can still be happy and do things that make you happy. Finding joy after traumatic events can be difficult, but all can be achieved with a little practice. You might find yourself in a depressive state, not enjoying the things you once loved. Sex is definitely one of those things.
After any kind of sexual harassment, sexual healing seems nearly impossible. In fact, it can be one of the biggest triggers for most survivors. How do you enjoy sex with your partner (or whoever else, we don’t judge) after someone has taken advantage of you? Well, that one might take a lot of time.
However, many people use sex as a way to regain the sense of self they lost. That’s because society portrays sex as something that happens to you. Instead, these people found a way to empower themselves by using the exact same tool that broke them.
Healing after sexual assault can take a lot of time and effort. We know that might not be something you want to invest in when you’re feeling low. Still, trust us when we say that it’s going to be so worth it. Once you start going through with it, you’ll realize that you’re on a path to becoming a better version of yourself.