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Surviving Sexual Assault: Take Your Power Back!

He hurt you. Without consent, he took advantage of your body. The intention was to use control as a means to render you defenseless. The way he looked, smelled, and that he showed no remorse for his actions left you incapacitated more than physical wounds ever could. Using his power to unravel your strength, what remained of you was an empty vessel.

In following days, there was torment over the choices that could have prevented the attack. This lead to one pressing question: why did you become the target? The most crucial epiphany was learning that you were inculpable for the assault. Even with this small feat, what remained were the burdens of fear, depression, anxiety, lack of appetite, and the need to wash the remnants of him off you. The greatest challenge was suffering from a broken spirit. You went from believing in yourself to feeling used and discarded. You were a means to an end. But the end for you is entirely different.

While attempting to resume a normal life, you put on a brave face just to keep up appearances, wondering if you should report what happened. On the inside you were ready to implode. Almost everything triggered a flashback and even simple tasks evoked an emotional crisis.

Regardless of the individual differences between traumatic experiences, survivors of assault experience setbacks with recovery. The most powerful choice becomes sharing your story. The intention is to inspire women to seek help and provide useful tools for navigating the healing process.

Take the Power Back by Speaking Out

 This will be the hardest part. You may be paralyzed with fear or endure grave discomfort by the thought of speaking out. This is because doing so requires reliving the events. And the person that hurt you may be in a position of power, complicating matters. You may have been threatened to keep quiet. But staying silent means that your attacker has the opportunity to harm someone else. The longer you wait, the more evidence may be compromised. You will need build up the courage to tell your family and make a police report. If you use your voice to share your experience, you will have the opportunity to take the power back. You will no longer be avoiding the inevitable because everyone knows the truth.

Make Time for Healing

After seeking justice, it is necessary to take the appropriate measures for the betterment of your mental health and well-being. You should consult a mental health professional if you are suffering from generalized anxiety (GAD), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), insomnia, nightmares, and depression. These are heavy burdens to grapple with, so it is wise to seek appropriate professionals. Sexual assault has the capacity to destroy your ability to function if treatment is neglected. It is a disservice to suppress the trauma. Eventually, physical and mental manifestations of pain are bound to surface.  Do not be ashamed to ask help and accept it. The alternative is a major disruption to your life that goes along with the burden of maintaining your trauma as a secret.

Acknowledge Your Worth

It is critical to understand that your attacker did not take the best parts of you even if it seems like it. What remains is your beautiful personality and all that you have worked for in life. He took your body and damaged your soul, but he did not destroy who you are. Look in the mirror and realize you are worthy of respect and appreciation. You must believe in yourself in order to establish a new identity after sexual abuse. The most arduous part of moving forward is acknowledging what happened, accepting it, and using it as a source of motivation to change for the better. Acknowledge that your life has been altered for the purpose of learning. There is so much you can achieve when you love yourself first.

Rebuild Your Identity

 You are a survivor now and no longer a victim. It may require immense effort, but little by little, engage in activities that bring you comfort and happiness. Keep the one step at a time mentality and set small goals that are easy to achieve. The best way to accomplish this is by making a checklist of two or three tasks that require minimal effort. This becomes the first building block to personal success. Then you can start building up to your dreams using smaller goals as checkpoints. Over time, you will become a better version of the person you once were.

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