For many people, sexual abuse can be a deeply isolating experience. It can also leave you feeling confused and frightened about how to protect yourself or your loved ones in the future. However, it’s important not to go through this alone. That’s why it’s crucial that you speak with someone as soon as possible if you’re a victim of sexual abuse. This can help you process the experience and recover from it (as much as possible). If you’ve been sexually abused in any way, even once, there are lots of things you should do right away. It doesn’t matter how many people have told you that before or how skeptical you might have been of those warnings—once is never enough time to deal with trauma like this. And while healing from this type of abuse is different for everyone, there are steps anyone can take to move forward positively again after being victimized. Here are some key things that everyone should know if they’ve been a victim of sexual abuse:
Don’t ignore it.
Sexual abuse is often a hidden experience. This means that someone who abuses you may be able to hide their actions from you. Because of this, it’s incredibly important that you don’t ignore what happened to you. While it’s normal to feel confused and afraid, it’s crucial that you acknowledge the abuse and report it to the authorities. Not only is this is the responsible thing to do, but it’s also a critical first step in getting help and healing. If you’re in a situation where you can’t speak openly to anyone, talk to yourself. Write down what happened and keep it nearby so you can refer to it when you’re alone. If you’re worried that anyone you tell might not believe you, find a trusted person to confide in.
Human trafficking is a horrific crime that affects millions of people around the world. This includes victims of sexual abuse. If you were trafficked or experienced any type of exploitation, it’s vital that you speak with someone. Don’t be afraid of being disbelieved or judged. An experienced therapist can help you process your experience, while also being compassionate and non-judgmental. You can also call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.
At some point, you may find yourself overwhelmed and unable to process your experience. If this is the case, reach out to a therapist or other mental health professional. They can help you process what happened, while also providing you with tools to help you heal. While it’s important to receive professional help, it’s also crucial that you don’t let your abuse define who you are as a person. If you need help working through the emotions tied to being a victim, it’s a good idea to talk to someone who isn’t tied to the issue. A family member, friend, or counselor can give you the space and perspective you need to move on from abuse.
Talk is key.
It’s normal to feel ashamed and confused when you’ve been abused. You may also feel like you did something to deserve it or that it wasn’t really a big deal. All of these thoughts are normal—and they’re also exactly what the abuser wants you to feel. It’s critical that you don’t let your abuser’s messages control your emotions. If you need to talk to someone or someone needs to be included in the conversation, do it. If you need to vent to a friend, do it. However, make sure you keep the discussion focused on the issue at hand.
Survivors don’t deserve to be blamed.
Many people believe that all victims deserve to be abused. This is a common tactic of abusers, so don’t believe it yourself. It’s also important that you don’t blame yourself for what happened. If you were sexually abused, you didn’t deserve it. There are no circumstances that would make that acceptable, even if the abuser claims they were under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Not all abusers are in control of their actions when they abuse someone.
Once a person has been a victim of sexual abuse, it can be incredibly difficult to move past the experience. It can also be difficult for others to recognize a victim, which can make getting help even more difficult. If you’ve been a victim of sexual abuse, there are things you can do to get better. Not only is healing from this type of trauma possible, it’s a necessary part of living a happy, healthy life.