Childhood should be a time of innocence, filled with joy and discovery that lays the groundwork for who we become. Sadly, for many who have survived child sexual abuse, that ideal picture is crushed and replaced by a lasting trauma. This is the case for Gaye who was sexually abused as a child by her grandfather. She has spent over a decade of her adult life working through her childhood trauma.
Recovering from such experiences is a complicated and personal process. Like Gaye, those who go through the recovery process carry valuable insights that can inspire and support others as they navigate their own journey to healing. Gaye has been open about her experience, and we can draw life transforming insights from her survivor experiences.
Acknowledge the pain
Child sexual abuse can leave deep emotional, psychological, and physical scars that stick around into adulthood. Gaye, in one of her expositions, writes, “The effects of the trauma can persist well into adulthood and are often passed down through generations.” Many survivors with similar experiences stress the importance of acknowledging the significant impact of the trauma. Recognizing and understanding the depth of these wounds is a vital first step in the healing process.
Embrace the non-linear path to healing
The journey to healing is far from linear. You may not necessarily go through a sequential chain of emotions that helps you process all the trauma. On the contrary, recovery often resembles a rollercoaster, marked by ups and downs. And it can take a lot of time. Even when it seems the trauma is past you, some occasions can trigger anyone back into depression.
Gaye has spent 16 years processing her childhood trauma. She admits, “It has been challenging at so many levels, but I feel truly liberated. If you ask me if I can forgive ‘him’ I may still slip into a fog of shame, guilt, confusion or wooden silence.” As you work through your own emotions, acknowledge setbacks while celebrating victories, no matter how small.
Break the Silence
Another important step toward healing is breaking the silence surrounding child sexual abuse. But opening up about the experience can be daunting. Gaye wrote, “A fundamental block to speaking out is the difficulty in finding receptive, respectful, gentle, patient, and compassionate listeners at the times we need them.” Understandably, you might feel a measure of safety in not talking about what happened. Regardless, talking to a trusted friend about the abuse can help you get relief.
Support other survivors
Many survivors find strength in advocacy, using their experiences to raise awareness and support others. "When we had the wonderful example of Grace Tame and Brittany Higgins and then the march for justice, I felt really inspired and wanted to join the ranks of speaking out,” said Gaye. Becoming a voice for change not only empowers survivors but also contributes to dismantling the societal stigma surrounding child sexual abuse. Survivor-led initiatives and organizations play a vital role in fostering a community of understanding, empathy, and resilience.
Find Community in Support Groups
In the warmth of shared experiences, survivors find solace and strength. Joining a support group can help foster a sense of belonging, understanding, and empowerment. For example, The Mission Haven offers a survivor community group where you can connect with others who have similar experiences. It is a safe space for authentic conversations, anonymous sharing, and learning from others who have walked similar paths.
Let Mission Haven Help You
Healing from child sexual abuse is a deeply personal and transformative journey. It’s not entirely easy but it gives survivors a chance to reclaim their life after trauma. The Mission Haven supports victims as they navigate their individual healing process. Our mission is to provide care and support to survivors, helping them heal and thrive. If you or someone you know is struggling, reach out to us. You don't have to navigate these challenges alone.