Many survivors struggle with whether or not things can get better. Many wonder whether things will get better, whether they will actually be able to face what they have been through, they wonder how hard it will be to begin healing, whether they will be supported and validated. They worry what their families, friends and society will think of them. They wonder what they did to cause this, what they could have done differently. Making the decision to begin the healing journey is not an easy one. Many recognize that it means opening the wounds that have been sealed shut for many years, it means opening yourself up to the fact that your flashbacks and triggers will become more rampant, that all the thoughts, feelings and memories will come rushing back. The thoughts and feelings you may have fought so desperately to suppress. Too be quite honest, it gets worse before it gets better and while I know this is not comforting, it is the truth. Beginning your healing is a necessary step. Don’t let your fear paralyze you into accepting that things will not or cannot get better. Don’t be willing to accept that there will be nothing other than the current pain you are feeling. Beginning to heal is scary, but it is the first step to reclaiming you, to taking you life back, to being in control of what happens next. I will not for one minute pretend this has been an easy journey for me, it has been and still is very difficult, but going back isn’t an option. The time will come when you feel ready to begin the journey, don’t rush or pressure yourself. You are a SURVIVOR, a VICTIM, a THRIVER, or whatever word you chose to describe where you are right now. Always remember that, this is your journey, that you get to decide, when you are ready, what happens, when it happens and who you allow by your side while on this journey. When you feel weak and out of control, remember that you survived, that it took tremendous strength, but you did it. As victims/survivors/thrivers/etc. we are hardest on ourselves, but you have to learn and actively practice being kind to yourself. You are worthy.
The nature of what you are about to delve into coupled with the fact that for so long you have shut yourself off from it will leave you afraid and scared of what you are embarking on. It also means that you will be jumping in all at once; there is no-way that I can think of that will easy you into beginning your healing. What I can recommend is ways to help you get through the tough times.1) Make sure you have a support system; someone who knows what you have been through and is willing to hold your hand, comfort and support you through the tough times. 2) Find ways to channel you pain and anger; maybe writing, dancing, exercising, meditating or something that you love doing. 3) Remind yourself that the flashbacks and thoughts are in the past and can no longer hurt you. Take account of where you are, know that this is a memory and that you are no longer in that place. 4) Try some relaxation techniques – breathing, meditating to help calm you down, 5) Set your boundaries; remember this is your healing journey and you come first; don’t feel bad or guilty saying NO, or having to walk away from something or someone that is too overwhelming for you, 6) Set a safe space; pick somewhere that will help you feel safe and secure that you can retreat to when the memories become too overwhelming, 7) Remember that you were traumatized and that not only your mind was affected, your body remembers the assault. Don’t be hard on yourself for tensing up or being protective of your own body, 8) Always remember that you are strong, that you have done nothing wrong, that you were a victim but you are now a survivor/thriver/…..(insert the word that describes where you are). 9) Know that you are worthy of having good things happen to you, you deserve it. For those of you ready to begin healing know that you are making a very positive step. Those who aren’t quite ready don’t pressure yourself, it takes time. You will get there. For those who have started and stopped once or many times, that’s ok. This is a process, sometimes we hit a wall, we need time to prepare for the next step, don’t be hard on yourself, take your time. As always we are here to listen aid in whatever way we can. Feel free to contact us.
We are always here to listen. Sexual assault is something that happened to you, it does not define you. You are a strong, beautiful, intelligent woman/child/man who has suffered a trauma through no fault of your own. You are not guilty of any crime. Something was done to you against your will. Always remember that you are not alone, that you have nothing to be ashamed of. We are taking the baby steps necessary to make it better for all. KNOW YOU HAVE A SAFE SPACE IN PROSAF.
Souyenne Dathorne, Velika Lawrence