Court House, Sexual Abuse, Assault, Survivor

How To Start To Heal from Sexual Abuse

The Broken Until Now Story

*Trigger warning, this story contains descriptions of abuse and healing from sexual abuse trauma. Keeping reading for my personal story and learn steps to healing from sexual abuse.

Healing from sexual abuse trauma is possible, but having a trained professional in the area sexual abuse trauma is key. I realized this the first time I tried to speak about this to a therapist.

“You have pretty much have hit rock bottom,” I heard the therapist say. As I held my tear stained tissue with tears running down my face, I managed to say, “I pretty much could be hit by a Mack truck and not give a f***.” The therapist became silent as if she was trying to process my response.  As I went to grab more tissues, she looked at me and said, “Just take the whole box.” I was thinking to myself, that probably isn’t a good sign, but at least I will have tissues for the ride home. As the session ended, I took my box of tissues and was told another therapist would be in touch.

And another therapist was in touch, and I quickly started to process my assault.  During one of my sessions, I told my therapist that I believed I knew where everything had started from, but I had never processed those events.

It was still years before I fully realized the impact this was having on my adult life.

Dealing With Childhood Trauma in Adulthood

The turning point was years later, after hearing a child disclose abuse, I sat in my car, feeling like a ton of bricks had just hit my chest, feeling like all of the years of holding my emotions together, unable to find the words to describe what had happened to me, had all finally come out. I was finally able to say where everything started from. I was finally able to say I was sexually abused.

As I wiped away my tears, I thought, “I have to report it. I have to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else. I have to fight for the little girl that I used to be, the little girl that still lives inside of me.”

Within a few days, I looked up the statute of limitations and realized I was within the statute.This was really the beginning of healing from sexual abuse trauma.

On March 23, 2013, and at the age of 25, I walked into the police station of my hometown to report what had happened to me 10 years earlier. I thought I would meet an officer at the end of his shift who didn’t care and would think, “Great, this girl is reporting a crime that happened 10 years ago.”

Instead, I was met by an officer who was compassionate and understanding. The officer actually told me he believed me and that he would pray for me.

After that meeting, the next 3 years would be a roller coaster of emotions—wiretapping my phone calls to my abuser so he could admit what was done to me, hurtful words said to me by people I loved and cared about, watching the media write articles entitled “Man Suspected of Sexual Assault in York County Captured in South Carolina,” testifying at the preliminary hearing, learning that my abuser could fight extradition, and probably the hardest point during that time, learning that there was another victim that was abused as well, but this time a young child.

Once my abuser was finally extradited back to Pennsylvania, he took a guilty plea to the most serious offense. Unfortunately, even though his conviction under Pennsylvania law required him to register as a sex offender for life, the current state he is in, North Carolina, does not recognize this. He is only required to register for a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of 30 years even though he has refused treatment and has taken no accountability for his crime.

Even though his guilty plea and having him register was a victory, it will never take any ounce of the crime or the memories away, but it did truly begin the healing process for me.

But healing takes time, and each person is ready to heal their trauma in their own timing. If you’re struggling with how to overcome sexual trauma, keep reading for tips that can help.

How Does Childhood Sexual Abuse Impact Adulthood?

Childhood sexual abuse has impacted my relationships, my sense of self and how I interact with people.

I thought for years, I had to do things I didn’t want to do in relationships. I thought it was normal to be treated certain ways and didn’t know why I would become defensive when I felt threatened.

It has caused me to not trust people, especially men and made me question people’s motivates even when they were being genuine.

Childhood sexual abuse does impact adulthood, but there are ways to start healing. Read below for more helpful tips.

Healing 

Know that healing from sexual abuse trauma not happen overnight and it’s a process. 

There are words and different triggers I still have that I have learned to cope with, but it continues to be a process.

I still struggle with bad days and if you do too, you are not alone. 

Counseling/Medication

Counseling is a great resource, and there are specialized counselors available. More information can be found at RAINN.ORG or you can call 1-800-656-4673.

Medication is not a bad thing. There is nothing to be ashamed of should you need medication.

Have a Support System

Having one or two people to talk to can be helpful.  It’s especially helpful if they also know what it’s like to be dealing with childhood trauma in adulthood.

I have a friend, we will call her Ms. R, that I speak to regularly about triggers and when I’m having hard days. 

God Does Not Condone Abuse

I feel like this needs to be said. I have heard from people that churches have made them apologize for their abuse “because of their role in it.” NO! That is not God nor should anyone make you apologize. 

Secondly, it was not God’s will. I have heard this and it could not be further from the truth. Abuse is not from God. It’s demonic. 

As a Christian, when I hear these things, it really hurts my spirit because that’s not right and I am so sorry if you have been told this while healing from sexual abuse trauma.

Prayer

Praying really changes things. Allowing God into your healing process can be really helpful. 

I was asked once, “Where was God back then?” I responded, “He was there,” but now I see him. I see him walking me out of my abuse. I see him walking me out of the courtroom that April day.

The day of the sentencing hearing I heard a song on the radio, In The Eye Of The Storm by 

Ryan Stevenson. I linked it below for you to listen to.

Part of the lyrics of Eye Of Storm say, “Find your peace in Jesus’ name.” Your dreams and hopes are not over because of things that have happened to you, been said to you, or been done to you. You are not meant to bear the events that happened to you alone.

There is help available for childhood sexual abuse recovery.

You are more than any event that has happened to you. You are a survivor.

If you’re working on healing from sexual abuse trauma, it’s important to know you’re not alone. I know this post was a heavy one, so if you need to reach out or private message me, please feel free to do so.

For more information about healing from sexual abuse, explore this other post:

5 Ways To Care For Yourself As An Abuse Survivor

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  1. […] I know this because I’ve been there. I’ve gone through the journey of healing from the trauma of my own abuse all while trying to be an advocate for others. If you want to hear my story of reporting my abuse as an adult, click here.    […]

  2. […] am I doing?” If you want to read my story, click here. (Trigger warning: The post contains abuse.)In those moments, we don’t feel brave or fearless. We […]

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