An avalanche of anxious emotions overcomes so many survivors of child sexual abuse. For years I lived in a place of extreme anxiety riddled with shame, and still struggle at times for peace in my spirit. The stress and triggers of my abuse seem to exaggerate these feelings. I understand why so many survivors of child sexual abuse turn to alcohol or other substances in a quest to calm these sometimes overwhelming emotions.
I began to ponder where this stream of anxiousness begins, whether a trickle or gushing river, and why I don’t have complete control over these emotions. Having listened to hundreds of survivors share fears from their childhood and I too grew up with my best friend, fear, as a constant companion that never left my side. My every move for 14 years was premeditated, navigating a minefield of abuse, making sure I planned bath time when my mother was awake or a walk down the hall making sure my stepfather was on the other side of the house. Like a calculated chess game every move in my home was strategized in what was often a failed attempt to stay safe.
As a child when your safety is jeopardized, whether groomed into a perverted act or touch or brutally raped or sodomized, either consciously or subconsciously you say to yourself, “The world is not safe and I am afraid of the next attack.” As a survivor, in many cases, you repress the memories and are left wondering why you are anxious, why you are fearful and why you can’t understand or manage the situation. Many survivors live for years never connecting the dots from their sexual abuse as a child to the self-destructive addictions or behaviors that may manifest in alcohol and drug addictions, eating disorders, cutting, suicidal thoughts or acts, rage and a plethora of other struggles.
So what is a survivor of child sexual abuse to do? Here are some suggestions that help me:
- Face your abuse. Acknowledge the pain that you may have spent a lifetime hiding by repressing feelings and memories.
- Find a safe person to break your silence and tell your story.
- Seek professional help from a counselor.
- Resist the urge to reach for alcohol or drugs to calm your spirit. Only use medication under the guidance of a medical professional.
- Release the shame you have carried over these years. Accept the reality that you had no power.
- Find a support group for adult survivors of child sexual abuse. If you can’t find one ask a counseling center or faith center in your area to start one.
- Exercise releases calming chemicals in your brain. Just start with a walk and try to get out of your head on your walk, take deep breaths and focus on the trees, the birds, the flowers, the sky.
- Pray for peace and strength and ask for prayer. You can write firstname.lastname@example.org to be prayed over by our prayer team.
- Contact VOICE Today at www.voicetoday.org and join our mailing list.
- Be good to yourself as an adult and that little girl or little boy that has suffered so desperately at the hands of your abuser.
My prayer is for you to experience complete healing and join me in my journey to find peace in my spirit. Know that I know your pain and I am so sorry for your suffering.