The Healing Process is the path, often a long and painful one, for overcoming and dealing with the reality of being raped. The path will vary slightly between victims but overall most phases will be experienced by the majority of rape victims. I highly recommend seeking professional help as an experienced professional can help you get through these phases so much faster and will help you to understand that you are not alone.
The Decision to Heal
Recognizing the effects of the rape or sexual assault and making an active decision to heal is the first and most important step in the healing process. Make a conscious decision to heal and you are willing to accept the changes that will go along with it.
The Emergency Stage
When you first begin to deal with your abuse, you may feel that your life has ended or been thrown into total choas. You might feel like you are going crazy and even like killing yourself. Although this is an extremely distressing time, it is extremely important to remember that is is just a stage and that you will not feel like this forever. The way you feel is part of the healing process; know that your feelings here are normal and that as disturbing as they are, those feelings mean that you are beginning to heal.
Many survivors spend years trying to forget or trying to put the memories of their attack in the back of their minds. But the healing process involves remembering both the incident and the feelings that go along with it. It can involve memories, flashbacks or even the physical sensations felt in your body at the time of the abuse.
Believing it happened
Survivors may even doubt their own memory or percentions of the attack, going as far as to deny that it relly happened. Believing that it really happened and that it really hurt you is one of the most difficult yet important steps of the healing process.
Breaking Silence / Secrecy
Most adults survivors keep the abuse a secret in childhood or for many years. The ability to tell a trusted person about what happened will really begin the real healing and is very powerful.
Understanding that is wasn't your fault
If you were assaulted as a child, even as an adult, you may belive that the abuse was somehow your fault. It is important to place the blame where it really belongs, on the abuser. It is NOT your fault!
Getting in touch with your own vulnerability
Being able to get in touch with your own vulnerabilities will help you to have successful relationships in the future. Many vicitims talk about being afraid to be vulnerable or trusting but getting in touch with these feelings can be a strength.
Learn to trust your own inner voice, thoughs, feelings and perceptions, as they are the best guide for healing.
Grieving and Mourning
It is important to grieve and mourn your loss because if you don't, you won't be able to move on. Mourn your loss, get in touch with your pain, let go and move on.
Anger - the Backbone of Healing
Learning to direct your anger at your abuser and not at those who love you. Many times victims either won't feel anger or have plenty but it's misdirected.
Learning to forgive YOURSELF for any of your own actions or negative behavior you may have had in coping with your abuse is very important. You do not need to forgive your abuser in order to heal.
Resolution and Moving On
Resolution comes when feelings begin to stabilize and you begin to feel like a whole person again. You 'll be able to make some life changes that you want and develope positive relationships .
Healing is not about reaching a specific point in time or any one individual phase or goal. There is no such thing as the finishing line where healing is concerned. The abuse happened and affected you deeply. That will never change. But you can, over time, reach a place of resolution where you can get on with you life.
This is information is adapted from The Grimsby and Scunthrope Rape Crisis web page on the Healing Process.
Disclaimer: The information on this page is not intended to be professional counseling advise and the author makes no warranties that the information is accurante or correct. If you have been the victim of rape or sexual abuse you should seek the advise of a licensed therapist.