How to Define Healing From Sexual Abuse

How Healing is Defined | 10 min read

How to Define Healing From Sexual Abuse

Written By Wendy M. Johnson | @WendyMJohnson7

Woman smelling flowers

Have you ever wondered where to go for help to heal from sexual abuse, what you should learn on your healing journey, and how to define healing from sexual abuse? If you have, you are not alone. Many survivors of sexual abuse do not know where to start. You might be nervous to even search on the internet where you can go to find answers and even more nervous to ask a friend or family member. Survivors are looking for safe and anonymous help. If you are at the stage that you are ready to look for help you may feel overwhelmed with many questions or you may have already looked into getting help or have already started the healing journey with less than satisfactory results. No matter the stage you are in it is important to start or reset and start over. Hopefully, this blog can help send you in the right direction to receive the guidance you are in search of. 

Effective Help for Sexual Abuse

There has to be a starting point to make a change in your life. Healing is action and helps you to take ownership and responsibility of your life despite your past. The goal to healing and feeling whole includes redefining how the past affects you. The healing process can be a temporary stage, or it can be a plague lingering throughout your life. Healing is not an abstract thought. It is real and tangible. Although one person’s abusive actions can destroy generations, another person can also change the cycle of abuse and set a new course for future generations. The secret to healing is understanding that a change needs to occur in your life, not in the lives of others.

Every victim of sexual abuse should have the opportunity to have access to resources that will help them heal from the effects of sexual abuse. Many victims do not heal because they cannot find the help they need—help that can speak their language, understand what they have gone through, and effectively teach them the skills to be healthy, functional adults. Unfortunately, the lack of available information on how to heal and stop the abuse from continuing can compound a victim’s vulnerability. This vulnerability can make you and your children more susceptible to further abuses. Victims often feel they lack any decision-making power because, when they were victims, they did not have the ability to stop it. However, when a victim has access to the information needed to heal, they have a choice. 

The most effective types of help for sexual abuse are:

  1. Peer Support groups 
  2. Therapist – one on one
  3. Online recovery program that specializes in sexual abuse
  4. Books/Information 

1. Support Groups

Picture of people in support group

Peer support groups that specialize in sexual abuse are critical to the healing process. Support groups offer you the opportunity to overcome feelings of isolation that occur because of the abuse. In a group, you can see that you are not alone and that the journey to healing does not need to be done by yourself. In support groups, you can interact with other victims that are further along in the healing process. This can give you hope and a goal to work towards. 

In support groups, you can learn to trust other participants and start a new path to learning how to have a healthy relationship. Support groups offer many benefits. You can learn about the cycle of abuse and all the issues that the cycle entails. Although peer supports groups do not diagnose you, by surrounding yourself with other survivors who have been through what you have been through can help dissipate your feelings of shame, self-blame, and guilt. You can join our weekly HEAL virtual support groups that offer a safe, anonymous platform available on any of your devices. HEAL created virtual support groups so that people in the most remote areas could access. Our secure web(live) conferences allow a victim of sexual abuse to sign-in at their home or a private setting and meet weekly for 14 weeks. 

2. Therapy

Picture of therapist and client

If you are not comfortable joining a support group or if you are attending one and you are feeling overwhelmed or think you may have a diagnosable issue (i.e. PTSD), you will want to find a therapist. Finding a therapist who specializes in your type of sexual abuse is critical if you feel your life is unmanageable. A therapist can help you focus on specific areas during the healing process. It is not uncommon to attend a support group and see a therapist at the same time. The difference between a therapist and a support group is that a therapist can diagnose and treat your symptoms, whereas a support group can give you support knowing there are others that have experienced what you have. 

3. Online Recovery Programs

Computer on Desk

The timeline of the healing journey is different for everyone but is normally not a fast process and healing cannot be completed in just a few meetings/sessions. Also, not everyone can afford the costs of individual therapy. That is where the HEAL membership site comes in. At HEAL we do not focus on the abuser or the external forces in your life except to know how to manage their effects. Our focus is on you, as an individual, and how you can take control of your own life by teaching you tools that transform you from powerless to powerful. The HEAL program provides tools and education for survivors to protect themselves and their children. Today, let the HEAL program help you transform your life and provide you with tools and life-changing skills to regain and reclaim control of your life. If you have been sexually abused, we are here for you. We believe you deserve a better life and have created a program to help you. We believe in you. We know what you have been through and that There is Life After Abuse. So, let’s do this together! 

4. Books

Books that specialize in sexual abuse can help give you an understanding of what you have been through and how it has affected you. It could be a place to start. You can read at your convenience. HEAL’s curriculum is also available on Amazon to purchase. HEAL is an empowerment book for survivors of sexual abuse 18 years and older, for both men and women, covering 14-principles that survivors can learn from. 

Considering all the aspects of life that sexual abuse can affect, it is critical that you become aware, relearn, and receive the appropriate guidance to heal and protect yourself and your family. Support groups, therapists, online recovery programs such as HEAL and books can help you on your healing journey. 

Core Educational Principles for Sexual Abuse 

Every victim of sexual abuse should have the opportunity to have access to resources that will help them to heal from the effects of sexual abuse. Recognizing that sexual abuse victims consider their own cultural, religious, and personal interests and obligations when making decisions, HEAL promotes victims’ empowerment by putting the agency of change in their hands in a safe manner. It is difficult to heal from something that you are unable to identify or understand how it affected you. You have used coping strategies your whole life to deal with the abuse; as an adult, you will need new ones. 

Once you are able define what you have been through, you can relearn and reestablish core life principles. As you are learning and getting more educated, you are rebuilding your self-worth and strengthening those areas of your life that are difficult. Many times, a victim of sexual abuse doesn’t know how to have a healthy, intimate relationship with someone and, deep down inside, they don’t feel they ever really can.

Healing encompasses education to stop the cycle of abuse in your life and your children. Survivors of sexual abuse should have available to them: education, emotional support, as well as taught the necessary tools to heal. You can be a powerful source to stopping the abuse from continuing by learning how to protect yourself and your children.

At HEAL, we believe that successful recovery is measured by whether the survivor applies their new coping skills and tools to increase their involvement in the present; acquire skills and attitudes to regain control of their lives; forgive themselves for self-blame, guilt, shame, and negative choices; set healthy boundaries; and learn to trust again. 

14 – Core Educational Principles to Learn: 

  1. How to have hope and understand you have a choice when it comes to healing
  2. Understand what abuse is and how it affected you
  3. Understand the culture of abuse
  4. Learn to believe in your inner voice
  5. Learn how to overcome feeling shame, guilt, and self-blame and that confronting your abuser is not a pre-requisite to healing
  6. Learn how to trust and how to set boundaries and learn new coping strategies
  7. Understand the background of why abuse happens (i.e. grooming, etc.)
  8. Learning how to express healthy anger
  9. Understand how the abuse affected your intimacy issues and how to overcome them
  10. Learn how to have healthy relationships within your family
  11. If you are a person of faith you may need to re-establish a new relationship with your Higher Power
  12. Regain your worth
  13. Forgiveness is not for your abuser. It is freedom from your past
  14. Come to understand There is Life After Abuse and you can tap into your potential

At HEAL, we believe these 14 core principles are the key truths all victims of sexual abuse need to be educated on and implement into their lives in order to achieve lasting healing and recovery. 


How to Define Healing from Sexual Abuse 

Woman in a field

Healing is about restoring your self-worth. It is hard to believe in something that you have never experienced, like an abuse-free life, but healing can have a stronger impact than the abuse. Many survivors have not seen a healed survivor and without that evidence it is hard to believe it is possible. It is true, it seems there are more unhealed survivors than healed survivors. How can that change? By survivors doing the work to overcome their past. Healing can show you just how strong you are and how much you are capable of. 

As you make a conscious choice to heal, you will get stronger. You will come to understand that you are the most significant factor in how you feel about yourself, your life, and your circumstances. You are capable of healing from sexual abuse. Below are some examples of what characteristics are found in a healed survivor: 

  • True healing occurs when you know how to fill the void in your soul
  • Self-love
  • The past is not filled with pain because you have worked through it
  • Understand your own innate value
  • No longer bound to your past
  • Understand you have not been robbed of your potential
  • Courage
  • Take responsibility for your life
  • Understands how to trust others
  • Knows how to set boundaries to protect yourself and your children
  • Understands where to go to get help for self-destructive behaviors
  • Is no longer in abusive relationships
  • Understand other trials may occur in your life but you have the tools to work through them or know where to find help
  • You no longer experience shame, self-blame, or guilt from being abused
  • Experienced self-forgiveness
  • Forgiveness is the catalyst for transforming and reclaiming your life 
  • Can laugh at self, at life
  • Happy

Healing is different from any experience you will ever have. It is emerging from one life to another. A rebirth that you choose to experience. That choice will be hard but living as an unhealed victim is the harder choice. To stay suspended in a past of pain for a lifetime is a tragedy and a choice. 

Healing gives you a higher sense of self-understanding. The greatest part of healing is having a sense that everything is going to be okay because of you. Healing also lets you know that you have the tools to react to trials. It gives you a sense of knowingness and a belief in yourself that you can overcome future trials. Life After Abuse also includes an inner, deep, and strong self-confidence. There is nothing more rewarding than knowing that you can count on yourself, protect yourself, and protect others around you. You can take care of yourself better than anyone else can.

Conclusion

We know that healing and feeling whole are not only possible, but that there is nothing you cannot overcome. At HEAL, we believe in the resiliency and courage of every victim of sexual abuse. At HEAL, our mission states, “We believe survivors of sexual abuse can “overcome their past, stop the abuse from continuing, and tap into their potential.” Overcoming your past is the longest part of the journey to healing. This process is about redefining your life and overcoming past dysfunctional belief systems. Stopping the abuse from continuing takes courage. It involves implementing your new thought processes and taking action to protect yourself and your family. Tapping into your potential is understanding that your worth was not affected by your abuse. Healing is a complete overhaul of your life. You can choose the life you want. 

Ever imagine what it would be like to live a life without shame? Join the HEAL community today. 🎉

HEAL has strict sourcing guidelines and draws only from peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical journals and associations. HEAL also may reference thought leaders, experts in the field, survivors stories, and websites. We link primary sources – including studies, scientific references, and statistics – within each article and also list them in the resources section at the bottom of our articles.

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