Sexual trauma is a pandemic of sorts hiding in plain sight. For example, one in three women across the globe report being sexually assaulted, and someone is sexually assaulted every 68 seconds in the U.S. There is no shortage of further statistics like this and the result is often post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Survivors are left to struggle with severe symptoms like flashbacks, nightmares, and extreme anxiety.
Unwanted sexual encounters are challenging to recover from but it is possible to heal from sexual trauma. Connecting with a skilled therapist with whom you feel comfortable puts you on the path. In the meantime, there are self-help steps you can take to move the process forward.
5 Ways to Begin Healing Sexual Trauma
1. Share Your Story If You Feel Safe Doing So
This scenario will vary greatly from person to person. In some instances, talking about the event can trigger feelings of trauma. So, it might make sense to talk with your therapist first. For those of you comfortable with speaking out, yes, it can be a step toward healing.
Confide in a trusted friend or family member. Join an online or in-person support group. If it feels best for you, start by writing in your journal. Name your emotions while setting personal boundaries if necessary.
2. Feel What You Need to Feel
The victim of sexual trauma is never to blame. Therefore, you have every right to feel any and all emotions that arise — without apology. Feel what you need to feel. Trauma cannot be healed until it is processed and resolved. Part of this journey involves you allowing yourself to experience anger, grief, or whatever other emotions arise.
3. Find Ways to Feel Strong Again
Control what is within your control. Make decisions based solely on your personal needs. It doesn’t have to be climbing a mountain or running a marathon. You can find incredible power and solace in singing at a karaoke event. Also, if you’ve always wanted to change your look, do it! Dye your hair, wear different clothes, get an earring — remind yourself how strong you are.
4. Practice Body Reconnection
Enduring the horror of sexual assault can leave you feeling disconnected from your own body. You may not even want to feel any body sensations. This is understandable and often part of the recovery process. But when you begin to actively seek healing, you may benefit greatly from choosing when and how you will reconnect to your body. It could involve, for example:
- Tai chi and Qi Gong
- Grounding techniques
Our bodies were created to move. We crave movement. Be in charge of how you move your body and enjoy feeling the connection return.
5. Set and Enforce Boundaries
This is good advice at any point in your life. When you’re healing from sexual trauma, boundaries are non-negotiable. Practice saying no. Get in touch with your needs and wants and be mindful to not let others dictate your decisions or behavior. Take back your power.
Therapy Is a Proven Path Toward Healing
Sexual trauma can leave a person wondering if they will ever feel better. Will they ever feel safe out in the world again? These valid concerns are harrowing to experience and can lead to increased depression and anxiety. A huge step toward breaking this cycle is reaching out to a trauma-informed therapist.
Your sessions will provide the safe space you need to do the work and get in touch with your emotions and your body. I would be honored to help guide you on this journey to recovery. Let’s connect soon for a free and confidential trauma therapy consultation.