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Healing Through & Navigating Sexual Trauma

Healing through sexual trauma is a big chapter within most of our lives and something that will be ongoing, which as time passes becomes easier to navigate. We will look at how we can start to navigate this experience and ways we can start to rebuild our self confidence and trust, this blog is part of a series of blogs around the topic as well as snippets from our Healing through Sexual Trauma Course.

Recovering from sexual assault and trauma takes time, and the healing process can be painful. But you can regain your sense of control, rebuild your self-worth, and learn to heal.

Trauma: Types & Symptoms

Trauma typically comes in two different forms. A single traumatic event could cause distress, such as a car crash or another short-lived experience. Complex trauma, on the other hand, involves a longer period of time where the trauma is repeated, such as a war. Complex trauma could be the same recurring event or separate events that are continually occurring.

Common symptoms displayed by trauma survivors include:

  • Compulsive behavior

  • Eating disorders

  • Depression

  • Flashbacks

  • Panic attacks

  • Substance abuse

  • Low self-esteem

  • Suicidal thoughts

How Can We Begin To Build Intimacy in a Safe & Loving Way

It’s important to remember that what you’re experiencing is a normal reaction to trauma. Your feelings of helplessness, shame, defectiveness, and self-blame are symptoms, not reality. No matter how difficult it may seem, with these tips and techniques, you can come to terms with what happened, regain your sense of safety and trust, and learn to heal and move on with your life.

Healthy Boundaries

Healthy boundaries are the limits and rules we set for ourselves within relationships. A person with healthy boundaries can say “no” to others when they want to, but they are also comfortable opening themselves up to intimacy and close relationships.

  • Values own opinions.

  • Doesn’t compromise values for others.

  • Shares personal information in an appropriate way (does not over or under share).

  • Knows personal wants and needs and can communicate them.

  • Accepting when others say “no” to them.

Self Compassion

With self-compassion, we give ourselves the same kindness and care we'd give to a good friend.

Self-compassion involves acting the same way towards yourself when you are having a difficult time, fail, or notice something you don’t like about yourself. Instead of just ignoring your pain, you stop to tell yourself “this is really difficult right now,” how can I comfort and care for myself in this moment?

Self Love

Self-love is a state of appreciation for oneself that grows from actions that support our physical, psychological and spiritual growth.

Start each day by telling yourself something positive. Something that will make you smile.

Fill your body with food and drink that nourishes it and makes it thrive.

Don’t believe everything you think. There is an inner critic inside of us trying to keep us small and safe. The downside is this also stops us from living a full life.

Surround yourself with people who love and encourage you. Let them remind you just how amazing you are.

Stop the comparisons. There is no one on this planet like you, so you cannot fairly compare yourself to someone else. The only person you should compare yourself to is you.

Celebrate your wins no matter how big or small. Pat yourself on the back and be proud of what you have achieved.

Step outside of your comfort zone and try something new. It’s incredible the feeling we get when we realize we have achieved something we didn’t know or think we could do before.

Seeking Out Support

  • When a relationship involves a trauma survivor, it is a good idea for not only that individual, but both partners to seek therapy or counseling together. Trauma-informed therapy is a good option, as it helps couples examine the ways trauma can affect the relationship. Separating past issues from present ones also helps. Individual and couple sessions are typically available.

  • Make sure you have a good support system in place for both parties to reach out to. Making you both feel loved and positive about the future of the relationship is crucial. Also, try to find resources for you both to use, such as community support groups.

  • Both partners in a relationship should be educated about trauma. Learn how you can care for yourself and your partner, practicing mindfulness to help with the healing process. Always be considerate and slow to react so unwarranted issues don’t arise in the relationship.

  • Getting treatment for trauma can minimize the risk of isolation and restore hope in a relationship. It also opens up a safe space for the discussion of traumatic experiences and the feelings associated with them.

Healing is a journey and thank-you for inviting us in to support you as you do so. At times we don't know where to start when it comes to healing from this type of trauma, although not focused on the sexual trauma, we have made resources to support you reaffirming and building or strengthening skills around,

  • Healthy Boundaries

  • Self Love

  • Self Compassion

They are free to download, so take a look to see if they can also help.

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