Sexual trauma can have a profound and long-lasting impact on a survivor's life. It can cause devastating physical and emotional injuries, and the road to recovery is often long and difficult. According to a study published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress, sexual trauma confronts individuals with extremely difficult-to-manage emotions.
Here are some suggestions to help you get started on the path to healing and hope.
Work Through Your Trauma
Accepting that you have been abused is one of the most important first steps toward reclaiming your life.
A survivor must "come to understand the emotional impact of the trauma so that they are no longer preoccupied or driven by negative feelings, and must grapple with the meaning of the trauma until an adaptive resolution is achieved," according to a study published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress. Sexual trauma has a stigma attached to it that can make you feel powerless or impure. However, remaining silent will only exacerbate your victim status and make recovery more difficult.
You can begin by:
Keeping a journal of your experiences
Writing down your experiences can help you understand what happened, which can aid in the process of coping and healing.
Attributing blame to the perpetrator
Holding the abuser accountable will help you avoid internalizing guilt. It will assist you in dealing with feelings of guilt and shame that may arise as a result of the traumatic experience. "You did not cause what happened to you, and you are not at fault," remind yourself.
Examine Your Triggers
Triggers are outside or inside reminders of your trauma. Triggers can cause severe emotional reactions such as panic attacks or flashbacks, as well as physical illnesses, such as vomiting or blackouts.
Determine your triggers:
Several common triggers, such as people or places associated with the trauma, can affect survivors of sexual trauma. Certain sights, sounds, and smells can also be triggering. You'll be able to notice and respond to your triggers more calmly once you've identified them. Begin by asking yourself questions such as, "What makes me scared, upset, or nervous?"
Listen to your body:
Your body sends signals to prepare you for "fight or flight" mode. Danger signals such as tension, shortness of breath, hot flashes, and nausea are common after sexual trauma. If you notice any of these, don't dismiss them. Instead, practice slowing your breathing. As you breathe in, place one hand on your stomach and one on your chest. Then, hold your breath for seven counts before exhaling on the eighth. Expel as much as you can. Rep the cycle until you feel relaxed and at ease.
Reestablish contact with your body:
It is natural to have a negative relationship with your body as a result of sexual trauma. It can make it difficult to appreciate or value your body. Reconnecting with your body may assist you in accepting and controlling it. Dance, walking, and yoga are examples of rhythmic movements that can help you relax your muscles and calm your nerves.
Sexual trauma is a life-altering experience, but it does not have to rule your life. You can begin to heal the wounds of sexual trauma and reclaim your life with time, patience, and the right support system.