Healing from a trauma as great as sexual abuse is not at all an easy task. Among so many other emotions, there is fear, pain, and shame that one needs to deal with. The shame mostly comes from the unfortunate and unfair cultural stigmas attached to sexual assault and rape, which can become a huge hindrance in the healing journey for survivors as they are often denied an adequate platform to let their feelings out and thus even begin their journey towards healing.
The journey to healing, whether a survivor has someone to help them out or not, can be painful and exhausting, which is why it is important to know how to make this journey a little bit easier. It is also important to remember that every person has their own ways of dealing with grief and trauma, and it is your right to let yourself take the time and space you need to take care of yourself.
Sexual abuse and rape can cause many psychological problems, such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD. It is very important to seek help and to use the right platforms to deal with mental health issues. Therapy works in a lot of ways. One of the most common and accessible methods is through sharing with your therapist while they guide you through your emotions. This guidance is quite necessary as the emotions can often become too overwhelming, and being in the presence of a trained professional can help you navigate through these tough feelings safely and effectively.
In addition to one-on-one sessions, there are other methods of therapy that can help. Art therapy is a great way for survivors to express themselves through art. You do not have to be artistic in order to utilize this type of therapy; you can express yourself in whatever way you desire. The entire process of creating the art can be very therapeutic. Additionally, the art therapist then can view the art and talk to you about the feelings and emotions that the art seems to encompass. This can help survivors establish communication, overcome stress, and also explore their own self and personalities.
A very important step for all survivors is to talk about their experience. This is extremely important, but also very tricky. Many survivors do not feel they can talk about the abuse or assault. It is important to take your time and be ready before you can begin sharing. It helps many survivors to talk to people they know will be empathic rather than going to their closest people who they know might not react as kindly. You can decide who to share with. You can find your own safe space. If you feel that you do not trust anyone enough to talk about this, it is always a great idea to reconsider therapy. You can find support groups to help yourself talk and also to feel like a part of a group. Build a community around you of like-minded people who can help and support you.
The Punjab Women Helpline service 1043 is a platform set up in 2014 to help women confidentially report any violation in their rights such as criminal offences, domestic violence, and harassment; women can also use the helpline to seek emotional support and advice related to their fundamental rights such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, etc. This helpline service is a useful option for women finding a safe space to confide into, and to seek support from.
Another important thing to do after the trauma is to take care of your body. Staying physically active can help your body and mind recover faster. Whereas exercise is important, it is also important not to overdo it and physically drain yourself. If you are having trouble sleeping, try to find the right balance between exercising and feeling tired enough to actually be able to get a good night’s sleep.
Meditation is a great way to keep your body and mind at peace. If you are not sure how it works, you can look up ways to meditate online, and can also just sit with your eyes closed and focus on the sounds and sensations around you. If meditation does not work for you, indulge in activities that you once used to enjoy. Remember, you know yourself better than anyone, and you can decide what the best way for you to heal is. The important thing is to let yourself.