Healing from Sexual Abuse

Ellen Bass and Laura Davis wrote a wonderfully empowering book for Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse (see suggested readings in Helpful Information) called The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse. In the book they speak of the following stages of recovery:

  • Making the Decision to Heal
  • The Emergency Stage:
    Beginning to deal with the memories and suppressed feelings and the turmoil this brings with it.
  • Remembering:
    This is the process of getting back and connecting both memory and feelings.
  • Believing it Happened:
    Survivors often doubt their own perceptions. Coming to believe that the abuse really happened and that it really hurt you is a vital part of the healing process.
  • Breaking the Silence:
    Most adult survivors kept the abuse a secret in childhood. Telling another person about what happened to you is a powerful healing force that can dispel the shame of being a victim.
  • Understanding that it wasn’t your Fault.
  • Making Contact with the Child you were.
  • Learning to Trust Yourself.
  • Grieving and Mourning.
  • Touching the Anger.
  • Disclosures and Confrontation:
    If it is appropriate and desired for the healing process.
  • Forgiveness:
    Forgiveness as is appropriate for the survivor. The only essential forgiveness is for your self.
  • Spirituality:
    This is a uniquely personal experience. You might find it through traditional religion, meditation, nature or a support group.
  • Resolution and Moving On:
    While you won’t erase your history, you will make deep and lasting changes in your life.