One of the worst and most devastating events carried throughout your life is sexual abuse and assault. The damage is extensive when the abuse is suffered when you are an adult, but it can completely change your development if you were abused as a child. Recovering from sexual abuse and assault, particularly if it was ongoing, is a lifelong struggle. You owe it to yourself to put in that work because your life is your making. With the right help, support, and a commitment to improving your day-to-day life, you can make progress.
You are not your trauma. Your trauma will have shaped you, but it does not have to continue to define you. Every person’s journey will be different, which is why every approach must be different, but these tips will help you begin your journey and help reclaim your life.
Consider opening a civil lawsuit
Making your abusers pay offers closure, and getting compensation can help cover the cost of therapy, workshops, and more. Of course, not every instance will be worth opening a civil lawsuit, but you should always consider it and even book an appointment with an attorney to see if you have a case.
This is particularly true if an organization helped cover up the abuse. If you were the victim of a clergy member, for example, then you need to see a specialist attorney, even if you think the statute of limitations has passed. In California, new rules are expanding the statute of limitations in cases such as these, and the best way to learn if you have a case is to see a California clergy sex abuse attorney. If you have a case, their professional, compassionate service will take you through the process. You will likely even be added to a class action lawsuit that can be very relieving for victims as they see others who understand.
Knowing you are not alone is such a simple, powerful thought. Knowing you have people on your side is even better. Getting closure through this can truly help you move forward.
Find the right therapist
If you struggle with any portion of life or your personal self and want to address it finally, therapy can be a great tool. It is not a tool for everyone, but before you decide if it is right or wrong for you, you owe it to yourself to at least try. To start, you will need to find a therapist that focuses on your situation most closely. If the therapist in question has worked with many other adult victims of childhood abuse, then they will have a much deeper understanding of your situation and how they could help.
You do need to feel a connection with your therapist. Give it a few sessions to see if you feel that connection and are open to sharing your thoughts and feelings. You also need to be open to the process.
If you do not connect with that specific therapist, try another. Virtual sessions have opened up your options considerably and have made it more accessible than ever to get therapy.
Find a support group
The trauma you experienced completely changes your development, and this can make it very hard for you to relate to others. Finding a support group can make it obvious that you are not alone, and can give you the space where you can talk about your trauma and the issues you still deal with without worrying about oversharing or burdening your friends and family.
A support group can be a group that you meet in person, or it can be an online group. You do need to be careful, however. Hearing about others’ similar trauma can be triggering. That is why finding a moderated group is so important. Moderators keep the conversations productive and healthy. If you find a group of other victims without a moderator, you can quickly regress through your progress and get stuck in thoughts of your trauma.
Work with your therapist to find a good support group. You should feel like you have people you can go to for advice and support. You should also feel like this group is having a positive impact on you.
Look into spiritual and wellness workshops
Wellness and spirituality are non-scientific therapeutic options that can have a deeply profound impact on you and can help with your recovery. So long as you enjoy the process and you feel better overall with your body, your mind, and your future, there is no right or wrong approach. Yoga can be incredibly mindful. Going on spiritual or artist retreats where you work to connect with your inner child or your body can be very empowering.
Look into these options alongside more professional routes. Your recovery needs to engage your mind, body, and spirit. There is a reason why art therapy works so well or why writing can be so therapeutic.
In many cases disconnecting from fast-paced activities, especially if they take your attention but don’t offer much value, like social media, can immediately make a difference. Finding slow activities that help you feel at peace with the quiet is invaluable.
Gardening, knitting, painting, writing, music – all of these can help engage different areas of your brain and can give you a place of solace.
Solace is essential when it comes to unpacking your trauma and learning. Both activities are very stressful, so having a mindful hobby, workshop, or event to look forward to can really make a huge difference in your overall recovery. The goal is to build a life where you can focus on other things and start building up your life based on what you love, rather than have it all precariously rest on an unstable foundation that was fractured due to the abuse you suffered.
This should be the most enjoyable part of your recovery. You don’t have to like everything that you do, but find and try new things so that you can heal and recover spiritually alongside mentally, and physically.