YOU CAN HEAL … IT IS PAINFUL … IT TAKES TIME … YOU CANNOT DO IT ALONE
IT CAN END AS LONG AS YOU MAKE A DECISION TO RECOVER
Emergency Stage of Remembering
As a survivor, I can tell you it gets better with time and there is an end. At first the pain feels intolerable and impossible to believe that it will end. Once you know you are a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, whether you always remembered or had amnesia, it is overwhelming and frightening, shocking and rattles to the core. It is often wrapped in self blame, shame, guilt or believing it was your fault. The story you tell yourself about your childhood is often built on lies.
In the beginning of remembering abuse from your childhood, you are in an “emergency state” – frantic, consumed with putting the pieces together, looking for clues, trouble sitting still, unable to concentrate on daily tasks, feel out of control and often feel “crazy,” it is with you 24/7. While you are in this, it is hard to see a time when it will end. It will as long as you decide to step into recovery and are committed to healing and willing to do the work to get better.
Actions to Take During this Phase of Remembering
In the emergency stage, you feel “crazy” but know that you are not. Survivors vacillate between belief and disbelief. Often a story is made up about your childhood built on lies.
How could this be true? Why didn’t anyone see? How could I have hidden it all these years from myself? Was I really a victim even though I was a child? Was I to blame? You bombard yourself with questions that don’t yet have answers.
You must find people you can talk to and develop a support system. If you have prided yourself on self sufficiency this is hard to do but not impossible as long as you are willing to try. On line organizations such as Rainn, Survivors of Incest Anonymous, Havoca, are ways you can start breaking your silence and tell your story. All provide ways to get support from other survivors. Look up what is available for support in your community whether you can afford to pay or not. Are there support groups, county run programs for survivors or groups run by a therapist? Know you can not do this alone. Books such as the Courage to Heal by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis, The Courage to Heal Workbook by Laura Davis, Reading about other people’s healing journey can be encouraging and help you feel less crazy.
Seek out professional help. When you have been hurt as a child it is difficult if not impossible to trust. A trained professional can help you learn. You can share slowly over time and they can help to unravel the memories of your abuse. Find the right person for you. Take time in talking to them on the phone as you are searching. There are many types of therapies and different costs but the most important ingredient is how you feel when you share. Ask about their knowledge of Childhood Sexual Abuse, Their counseling experience, their understanding of the process of recovery. Do they answer all your questions clearly and do they take time to explain? Even though it is hard for survivors to trust themselves, pay attention to your reactions while the therapist is talking. Do they seem sensitive, empathetic, trustworthy? Are they someone you believe you can open up to?
Safety is important. Do you have a special place where you can read, write, listen to podcasts and webinars? A place where you have privacy and uninterrupted time. If not can you create a safe place to learn? It does not have to be indoors. There are also many guided imagery and on line meditations to listen to as well specifically on healing.
Identify where you are now in your recovery from Childhood Sexual Abuse and try to avoid self criticism and comparing yourself to others on this journey. Praise yourself for your willingness to heal and try to allow yourself to be where you are now.
Spirituality can provide the emotional strength you need to do this work. Whatever you believe is ok as long as it is comforting, helps you feel less alone, and helps to provide strength, courage and hope as you unravel your abuse.
If you are overwhelmed by symptoms, severely anxious, depressed, and/or unable to sleep, consult with a doctor about medication. If you are against medications seek out natural remedies provided by health food stores for depression, anxiety, sleeplessness. Exercise of any kind will help. Don’t push but pick something that you think you can do for yourself now based on your energy and time.
Self medicating does not work and often blocks you from healing. Often people will self medicate through drugs or alcohol. Self medicating is a way to avoid getting help and an attempt to stay self sufficient, do it on your own and keep your memories at bay. If you know you are drinking, taking drugs or eating excessively there are many support groups in every community such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, Food Addicts Anonymous, Co Dependency Anonymous, Al Anon, Nor Anon, Sex Anonymous, S
Anon for partners, Adult Children of Alcoholics, Emotions Anonymous, Debtors Anonymous and Gambling Anonymous, Workaholics Anonymous All twelve step support groups that are free and provide both face to face meeting as well as online support and numbers to call for phone support.
There are many hotlines today for Abuse of all sorts whether Physical, Sexual or Emotional. Rainn provides Sexual Abuse Hotlines and there are Suicide Hotlines both in your community and national to call.
What is important is you do not have to recover alone. Take the time to look, ask and explore what is in your community. Give yourself options and ways to heal. You can heal through art and music as well as writing. There are workbooks available, on line literature and programs. Step into recovery. Embrace it and make room for healing.