One of the hardest things to do after a sexual assault is learning how to trust again. How to let another person into your space and still feel safe. Placing trust in anyone becomes nearly impossible when the reason you were hurt is that you let yourself believe someone and they betrayed you.
For most, it seems more natural to keep people away, rather than put yourself in that position again; but, that is not the right way to overcome a sexual assault. Living like this is like living in prison — where you do not deserve to live.
Now, it is possible to learn to trust again. This process will not happen overnight. In fact, it most likely will take months or even years; but, it is possible, and you can do it. There will be days where everything will trigger past emotions, past fears. There will be days where everything seems perfect. It is all part of learning to trust again.
If you have been sexually assaulted, or know someone who has, these tips will help you learn to trust in others again and live a productive life.
Learn to Understand What Happened
Anyone assaulted may find themselves lost in confusion, inundated with questions that wreak havoc on their life, questions like:
- Am I worth anything?
- How could I let this happen?
- How could they do this to me?
- Will people look at me differently?
- Should I just end my life?
- Why should I try?
These aren’t even the darkest of questions, and they sure don’t show the rage that an assault victim may feel. However, before healing can begin, the victim has to figure out a way to comprehend what has happened.
A great way to start understanding what has happened is to join a support group that is designed to help other victims feel safe, accepted and to know others are dealing with the same things that they are.
Accept That the Sexual Assault Happened
After understanding what happened, you have to accept that it happened. That does not mean that you are condoning this heinous act, but rather that you know it happened, you can’t change it, and that your life will be different from this point forward. When you don’t accept what happened, then the sexual assault ends up controlling you, and that is what you can’t allow.
Acceptance will help to take away the overwhelming burden and make it easier to move forward. Now, it will not be easy, or quick. But, take the time necessary to learn to accept what has happened so that you can begin recovery.
Join a Support Group
As previously discussed, joining a support group is going to help you recover from a sexual assault. Any assault is hugely damaging and destructive, and leaves a considerable wake behind when it is over. When facing these feelings alone, negative thoughts can become even stronger, sometimes leading to suicidal thoughts and possibly even suicide.
That is why it is imperative that you reach out to a support group. There are support groups built around helping survivors of sexual assaulted. The professionals who lead these organizations know how to help guide you down the path of recovery.
Also, the people in the group will help you to realize that you aren’t the only one to have to deal with these thoughts and feelings. Just knowing that you aren’t alone can make all the difference in the world.
Call A Support Hotline
Sometimes, the feelings come back all at once, and you just need someone to talk to. When all of your friends are sleeping, and the support group is not in sessions, what do you do?
Calling a hotline can give a person quick access to support. Sexual assault hotlines talk with victims about the way they feel, what they went through, and what they can do. Hotlines have access to local authorities and shelters for any additional assistance.
In some cases, all a victim needs is someone to talk to. That is why the operators for these support hotlines receive training. They can offer the support and assistance needed for dealing with all these negative thoughts. They will talk with you for as long as needed, helping with additional local aid if necessary.
Do Not Hide From People Or New Relationships
Unfortunately, for many assault victims, the trauma can lead them to avoid social interactions, gatherings, and relationships. By doing this, they feel that they are controlling what happens to them, when in fact, it is the sexual assault which is still controlling them.
Instead, find someone you do trust and take them with you whenever you go somewhere. Use the person as a crutch, as a support blanket, until you can trust again. That may take a while, but still, it is necessary for recovery.
A victim who stays inside and runs away will continue to fear. They will continue to live with that fear and feel as if there is no escape.Instead of letting that become a reality, take control. Become the master of the situation and slowly learn how to handle all of it again. Friendships, talking, society, and relationships all will start to come back.
Through regular effort and getting out there, the fear becomes less potent. The victim turns into a survivor as they begin to take control of their own life.
Get Back to Normal
After a sexual assault, normalcy seems so far away at this point. Everything about dealing with others begins to shift. Nothing seems normal anymore – as if there is no normal.
But, normalcy is still there. To get it back, start doing things like you used to do. Start talking, walking, and getting out there. After dealing with the fear, returning to the routine of the past is the next step. It can feel difficult at times, but it is part of trusting people; it is part of feeling comfortable and safe in the world again.
For a sexual assault victim, trusting anyone may seem impossible. For them, it was their trust that caused this, and there just isn’t a reason to allow it to happen again. Statistically, the chances of it happening twice are almost nil.
The steps listed above aren’t the only ways to learn to regain trust, but they are great ways to start the recovery process. Sexual assault is never something to be looked upon lightly. It is highly damaging, destructive and confusion. These steps will help you begin the healing process and overcome what should never have happened.