There are some things in life that are scary such as trying new foods or riding a roller coaster. There are also terrifying experiences like a first kiss or starting high school. And then there are horrifying ones that take the breath right from within you like telling someone about your sexual assault or abuse. That one’s a monster. When you tell someone about such an experience, your head is spinning with questions such as, “Will they believe me?” and “Will they treat me differently?”
But what happens after you speak out about what has happened to you? You might feel a variety of things: You may feel as if you’re lying, you may feel confused. It’s all normal. After all, you have shared one of the deepest parts of your life. But here’s some great news that I need you to remember: Speaking it out loud is the very first step to taking back your power. You friend. are so brave for doing so. When it comes to the aftermath of sexual assault or abuse, the best thing you can do is take back your power from the person who has hurt you so that this horrifying event is no longer controlling you.
Nevertheless, taking back your power can be overwhelming and can even feel impossible. the truth is that there’s no definite way to do it. However, in my own experience, there are certain helpful things that can aid you in taking back control.
1. Become okay with hearing and saying it.
Saying that you’ve been sexually assaulted or abused can be very weird at first. But the more you say it or someone close to you says it, the more it starts to become reality. From here it starts to feel more like part of your story instead of just some words. For some, it may be a phrase that takes some adjustment. In my journey, I was able to say “sexually abused,” but the word “rape” took a very long time for me to speak out loud.
2. Tell your story.
This involves more than forming the words “I was assaulted/abused.” Here you are telling your story — the whole story, the big picture. The more you tell it, the more distant you become from the overwhelming pain. Telling your story allows you to let it all out in the open rather than let it consume you from inside out. Not to mention, you will see the impact your story has on others.
3. Share the details with a trusted counselor or therapist.
This first time my counselor had me share some of the details, I thought she was insane for making me go back there. But sharing the details allows you to let go of the thought that only you and your abuser(s) know what happened. It also gives you the opportunity to understand certain aspects that may not make sense about the assault or abuse. My only plea is that you do this with a trusted professional because if not done wisely, it can make matters worse.
4. Replace flashbacks and painful memories with good ones.
After your sexual assault or abuse, this will be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. But trust me, it is so helpful. Every time your mind starts to go back to that time, consciously replace that memory with a good one and focus on it. If your mind is focused on the assault or abuse then you are going to live as though you are still there. However, if your mind is focused on a present, good memory, you will be able to free yourself from the negativity and see that life does move on.
These are just a few ways to help you take back your power from something that no one should ever have to experience. And for that, I am so sorry. Taking back your power allows you to live the life that you momentarily didn’t have. Remember: You are a powerful woman and you are capable of doing this!