The moments of reckoning that are currently happening within the U.S. are bitter-sweet. We, as a national community, are fervently resisting systems of oppression that have been maintaining power for far too long. But our resistance is also forcing too many of us to revisit past traumas and pull back the scabs on wounds we had hoped were healed.
Survivors of sexual trauma are especially vulnerable in this current social and political climate. Whether their trauma is connected to a recent assault or one from long ago, survivors are constantly triggered. They are made to watch the current president, the supposed leader of this nation, mock other survivors. They have to sit, stunned, as another alleged sexual predator is nominated to the nation’s highest court. And they have to bite their tongues, as they witness the people they know and love defend and uphold accused and convicted rapists. Somehow, in all of this witnessing and reckoning, survivors of sexual abuse must find the strength to heal from their trauma.
Healing from sexual abuse is difficult, and heartbreaking and devastatingly cyclical. ‘me too’ asked relationship and sex therapist Eliza G. Boquin (who is also the owner and founder of The Relationship & Sexual Wellness Center of Houston) to offer 3 ways survivors of sexual abuse can work towards healing their trauma. Here is her advice:
1) Work with a licensed psychotherapist who specializes in sexual trauma:
Trauma wreaks havoc on our bodies, minds, and spirits. It gets stuck in our bodies and can keep us from living full, healthy, satisfying lives. Trauma is not something we can pray away, wish away or override with positive thinking. The best way a survivor of sexual assault can relieve themselves of their burden of trauma is with the guided support of a licensed professional who is trained to address the unconscious and conscious memories associated with the assault.
2) Stay Open to Different Healing Paths:
There is no “right” way to heal. Survivors must understand that their path toward healing is their own, and they should be open to exploring which paths work for them. Healing can look like psychotherapy AND energy healings, trauma-informed yoga, acupuncture, meditation, or prayer. Maybe healing will require all of these options done simultaneously. The key is to steer clear of any self-destructive, self-sabotaging methods of tending to pain.
3) Take Back Your Power
Tapping back into one’s power as a survivor won’t happen overnight, and the process may look extremely messy. It’s important that survivors allow themselves grace and claim small victories throughout the process of returning to their power. Maybe they’ve made the phone call to schedule their first session in therapy, or they’ve started writing in a journal hoping to rewrite their narratives, or perhaps they’re joining a survivors support group. Survivors must acknowledge the choices and ways they’ve already begun to take steps towards healing, and celebrate their beautiful and unwavering resiliency.
Healing from sexual violence can—at times—feel insurmountable, but it is possible. Find additional sources for survivors here.