Overcoming sexual abuse with therapy
In England, one in five women over the age of sixteen has experienced sexual assault and in the UK alone, 12,000 men are raped every year. The trauma resulting from sexual assault can follow a person around from the day it happens for many years after. However, an event like this doesn’t have to follow you forever and with the right help, you can overcome it.
From my experience with sexual abuse therapy in Warrington and Cheshire, I have come to understand the most effective ways for men and women to overcome the sexual abuse they have suffered.
Don’t Blame Yourself
The first and the most important step is to let go of any blame that you place on yourself for the abuse that you faced. It is common for survivors to blame themselves as they might not know the identity of the assailant, or understand why the attack happened to them, so they try to place the blame on themselves to make someone accountable. Survivors who are subconsciously blaming themselves often change their appearance and their actions as they think that these could be what caused or instigated the sexual abuse. However, whether by yourself or through the help of others, you need to understand that the responsibility of the abuse falls entirely on the abuser and not the survivor – yourself.
You may always carry a memory of the abuse, but it may become just a recognition of what you underwent and not specific details. However, that doesn’t mean that you need to hold onto the feelings of guilt and pain. From my experience in sexual abuse therapy and by helping a variety of people in Warrington and Cheshire, I have come to learn that my patients gain the most healing by letting go of the emotions that tie them into the experience or lead them to negative, self-blaming or even suicidal thoughts.
Speak to Someone
The true benefit of this step is to realise that you are not alone. By taking that step to speak to someone about your abuse, be it a friend, family member, police officer or therapist, you can start the process of healing. Whether we realise it or not, a lot of us are surrounded by people who have faced the same pain and trauma of sexual abuse.
By connecting with women, or men, who have experienced similar abuse to you, you can come to accept that what has happened to you is not your fault. Sharing your story can be a very powerful method of healing, as although re-living the experience can seem part of the trauma, speaking to someone who has shared your experience can help you to come to terms with the abuse.
If you feel embarrassed talking to your family and friends, or think that a group environment might be overwhelming, looking for a counsellor that specialises in sexual abuse therapy could really help you. By discussing your feelings with someone who has helped other people in similar situations, they can understand and guide you through the healing process whilst giving you the support you need.
Focus on The Future
Acknowledge your past sexual abuse but do not let it define you. By believing that you are strong enough to overcome your trauma you provide yourself with the confidence to achieve a future in which your abuser and their actions can no longer torment you. Through my sexual abuse therapy sessions in Warrington and Cheshire, another key step I have seen to work effectively is concentrating on processing your emotions. By allowing yourself to feel emotions such as anger towards your attackers you can prevent yourself from holding and suppressing emotions that can keep reminding you of the abuse later down the line. It is important to share and embrace these feelings for a healthy period of time and then you can move forward.
Express your anger. Anger is most likely the first emotion you will feel once you’ve moved past the grief and self-blame. It is understandable you may be angry and perhaps even enraged at the injustice you experienced, especially if there was nothing done to stop the abuse, or your abuser remains free. You have to experience this anger before you can move on.
You also need to allow yourself to grieve. The sexual abuse you have faced, no matter at what age, has stolen something from you that was personal and a betrayal like that will make you feel sad and hurt. Grieve for your experience and give yourself time so that you can move on and see a future where the abuse and trauma can no longer hurt you. If you suppress your grief you will never fully move on.
If you are trying to process your emotions and recover after surviving sexual abuse, I could help. I offer sexual abuse therapy that is based near Warrington and Cheshire, where you can express your feelings in a nonjudgmental one-on-one safe environment. I believe in the person-centred approach – there is no pressure and you set the pace. If you would like to hear more, please don’t hesitate to contact me today.