Talking about sexual abuse is important for the victim because this is the first step to work through sexual abuse and begin recovery.
Our initial response to negative experiences is to try to forget them or pretend they don’t exist. These experiences are so painful and they make us feel so vulnerable, that we do not want to talk about them or revisit the trauma of the abuse. We try to chase the images and feelings of the abuse out of our minds, yet often times they come back chasing us.
Silence only encourages those feelings of loss, abandonment, hopelessness, and despair. Not only that, but the longer the abuse goes without confrontation, the more emotional and psychological damage it causes to the victim and his/her current and future relationships.
Talking about the sexual abuse is a crucial step for the victim of sexual abuse to begin healing. Once the abuse is out in the open, it does not hold the same oppression over the victim.
Talking about the abuse, however, proves to be a difficult emotional and psychological task. There is a battle between the desire to deny the horrible abuse and the powerlessness of the events, with the desire to shout from the depths of our soul about the crime that was committed against us.
Judith Herman in her book, Trauma and Recovery, points out that once a victim of sexual abuse begins to talk about the abuse and recognizes the devastating impact in his/her life, they can begin their recovery. Sadly, far too often secrecy prevails. The result is that victims share the story of their abuse not through the telling of their story, but through their actions and “symptoms.”
Often times, victims of sexual abuse do not understand the many different emotions taking place in the wake of the abuse. They can see only fragments of the abuse, and it is hard to put it all together, and make sense of what happened. It is even more difficult to find the words to explain and communicate clearly and fully what took place. This inability to personally understand what took place is what sometimes holds people back from exposing the abuse.
However, it is important to share, even the little pieces, one at a time, about the abuse. By talking about the abuse, the victim can process the events while being affirmed that they are not responsible for the abuse.
In addition, once the abuse is out in the open, the proper supports can be put into place to offer hope and healing.
Talking about the abuse is a process of discovery. How did the abuse really affect me? What did the sexual abuse rob me from? What behaviors do I see that are a direct result of the abuse?
The damage and trauma of sexual abuse will not go away on its own. It is not something that you simply forget and move on, it needs to be talked about. Abuse carries many painful emotions that are hard to deal with on our own. Talking about these feelings allows us to share the burden and get help from someone who is trained to deal with those emotions.
If you have experienced the trauma of sexual abuse and have not been able to talk to anyone about it, please know that there are people that can help you process what took place. As a Christian counselor, it will be my honor to offer a listening ear, and be someone that can offer hope and support, bring truth and help you recover.
Talking about the sexual abuse is the first step towards recovery, are you ready to begin the journey towards your healing?
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