I am a sexual abuse survivor. It happened during my childhood and for so long I was dissociated from the memories of what happened. My brain kept me from them to protect me.
I had all the symptoms of being a sexual abuse survivor though, and by the time I reached college my life was starting to derail. I was having panic attacks and struggling with self-harm and suicidal ideation. I had an eating disorder. I was trying my best to cope with what I had been through but nothing was helping.
I found a therapist but he was really unhealthy and just made things worse. After years of working with him and getting worse and worse I finally found a therapist who is now helping me. She is amazing and is a trained trauma therapist.
For me, one of the hardest parts of being a sexual abuse survivor is the messages I was taught while it was happening. The abuse was repetitive for years and the messages became ingrained in me: that I was unlovable, that it was my fault, and that I was such a terrible person that I deserved pain and punishment. I have carried these messages with me into adulthood and unlearning them is difficult.
I’ve recently realized that the reason why I struggled so much with self-harm is because the abuse taught me that I deserved to be hurt. And even though the abuse has been over for years, I still carry that message with me and inflict pain on myself now.
I’ve worked really hard to stop self-harming, but I still get the urges and still have thoughts that I’m a terrible person. Thinking of myself as lovable is so unreal for me. Sexual abuse can be so incredibly damaging and it seems like a lot of people don’t understand how deep it can go and how long it can affect us. Decades later we can still be struggling with the aftereffects of what happened to us.
If you are a sexual abuse survivor, it wasn’t your fault. You didn’t deserve it and you’re not a bad person. It was all about them. The person who hurt you was the bad person, not you. I’m sorry if they made it feel like it was your fault. I’m sorry if they taught you that you were unlovable and deserved pain.
You ARE lovable. You DO NOT deserve pain. You didn't then and don't now.
If you struggle with self-harm and suicidality, be gentle with yourself. These messages are hard to unlearn and the fact that you are still alive and here is amazing.
I want you to know that recovery IS possible.
With the right therapist and the right support it can happen. If you feel like you don’t have any support in your life right now I definitely recommend checking out the WhiteFlag app. There are people there who have been through similar things as you and they can support you as you recover. If you’re looking for a therapist please choose one who has been trained in working with trauma survivors. If you don’t know where to start looking go to twloha.com. They can help you find someone.
I know how hard it is to be open about what you’ve been through. There is so much shame and stigma surrounding sexual abuse. That’s why you can be anonymous on the WhiteFlag app. You can talk to other people and you never have to tell them your name. If you’re feeling alone right now I know how you feel. After experiencing abuse it can feel like you’ll never get your life back. You’re not the only one who feels this way and it IS possible to heal and recover. I’m sending you all my love. Please reach out if you need support.
Get support. Give support. Download the app today.