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Unveiling the Aftermath: Life After Sexual Trauma

Rebecca Hilliard

Guest Blogger

girl with hands on her body, sexual assault
TW: Sexual Assault

Life after sexual assault is a topic rarely discussed, leaving survivors unprepared for the challenges they may face. For me, there is no 'before'—I was sexually abused as a child, and my life has been shaped by that experience. Sometimes, I wish I could remember what it felt like to be free and alive, instead of constantly living in survival mode. Yet, I also recognize that knowing life without the constant flashbacks, trauma, panic, and doom might make the burden even heavier.

Escaping the Shadows: The Struggle to Reclaim Life After Sexual Assault

Being able to focus on your life after sexual assault is incredibly difficult, often feeling like a life not worth living. My every decision is influenced by the lingering emotions, panic, and PTSD from the abuse. Despite it having ended years ago, I still feel trapped by its effects, as though it is always chasing me, and I can never break free. While my therapist assures me of the progress I've made in our eight years together, there are times when it feels like I haven't moved forward at all.

Chasing Freedom: Battling Daily Fear and Longing for Normalcy

Every morning, I wake up filled with fear that the abuse will happen again, and every night, I go to bed with the same dread. I long for freedom—to make decisions not dictated by the fear of abuse recurring. I yearn for restful sleep, the ability to travel, and the freedom to engage in activities without being paralyzed by anxiety. I want to socialize without viewing everyone around me as a potential threat. Most of all, I want to experience joy and happiness again.

My therapist often reminds me that the abuse was complex, so it's no surprise that recovery is as well. We're actively working to rewire my brain and change the core beliefs ingrained by the abuse. She reassures me that recovery is possible, and I believe her. I am committed to this journey, no matter how long it takes, because I refuse to give up on the hope of a life that feels fulfilling.

Complex Trauma, Complex Recovery: Rewiring for a Fulfilling Life

I write this blog for all survivors of sexual assault. I understand the pain and difficulty of life afterward. I encourage you to hold on and continue working toward recovery, as healing is possible. While your life may never be the same as before, perhaps the journey through healing will make it even deeper and richer, as you've overcome immense challenges.

You Deserve All Support: It's Available

If you do not have a therapist, you can find support through trauma-focused social media accounts using hashtags like #cptsd and #traumarecovery. My account, @inthistogethernow_, is also available for support. Lastly, consider downloading the WhiteFlag app, where you can connect with others who have experienced similar traumas. Remember, you are not alone, and healing is within reach.


Connect with someone who understands on WhiteFlag: a free, anonymous, peer support network. Now!

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