"Had I not gone through it myself, I would have never believed such a thing could happen to a child" - Yushima Cherry.
One may find that during recovery, they are met with denial and minimization from the abusive adult or non-abusive adult. It is necessary for recovery to acknowledge true feelings and accept them. It is also pertinent to understand that others may not be in a place to accept what happened, if confrontation is a chosen healing method it must be understood that, the perpetrators own their feelings and the survivors own their own feelings. There is little worse than reaching out to someone for something they have done to cause pain and being rejected. To avoid this recycling of abuse, expectations should be from yourself for your own personal recovery. With a made up mind, have a plan of action for the reaction from the person at fault. Be sure to have a support system ready to intervene on your behalf and/or to ensure that much needed comfort that comes during the healing process.
Tips to healing from child sexual abuse
1. "Take your time. Don't rush to forgive the perpetrators before identifying your feelings about the abuse and the abuser. Allow yourself permission to feel the hurt, fear, and humiliation. As you begin to recognize unfairness of your childhood-in the course of regaining your power- you will probably need to express your outrage at what happened and at the individuals who were responsible," Mike Lew. Once your feelings have been identified, whether or not one chooses to confront the abuser, forgiveness is key for complete recovery. It releases the control that the abuser has on the survivor of child sexual abuse.
2. Protect yourself. Beware of getting trapped by pity. Be careful not to yield to the inclination to protect or take care of the perpetrator. Even though you may care deeply for him, he is not in need of your protection-you are! Forgiveness does not condone continued abuse. Your recovery is in everyone's best interest.
3. Explore your real feelings. When you think of forgiveness, what feelings arise when you do? Pay attention to those feelings. From the Christian perspective, forgiveness is necessary to move on in the healing process. From the counseling perspective, forgiveness releases the control the abuser has over the survivor. Whatever your belief, consider forgiveness. For a video of encouragement, please click here.
4. You can change your mind. Recovery is a dynamic process. Things change. What is appropriate at one point in recovery may be irrelevant at another. Right now you may feel that you will never get to the point of forgiving the perpetrator, and later find that those feelings are quite different. Continue to work through your issues and focus on your strengths. If you pray, pray for the ability to forgive and ask that you receive what you need for this very moment. If you don't pray, ask someone to pray for you. If you have already tried everything else, why not prayer?
5. Forgiveness takes on different forms. If you choose to forgive the perpetrator, there are a number of ways to do so. you can say so directly. This will allow you to get an immediate response. As with confrontation, be aware that the response you receive may be quite different than you anticipated. There will be no Hollywood-style reconciliation scene with music and flowers. Declaring forgiveness may be a beginning step in building a viable relationship. Or your forgiveness may be rejected or misinterpreted.
Remember to prepare yourself for the possibility of disappointment. Forgiveness is for you and your recovery, keep that in mind.
If direct contact is not what you want, you can declare forgiveness on the telephone or by letter. The latter, of course, allows you to state what you wish without interruption. You can also forgive someone without telling him directly, manifesting it through your behavior. Finally, you can forgive someone in your heart without doing anything directly. It is your decision.
6. It isn't "all or nothing." Forgiveness doesn't have to be all at once for every single thing that the abuser did. New memories and situations may arise and the forgiving process may have to begin all over again. You may find yourself in the midst of anger and disappointment during these times, but be encouraged this is all part of the healing process.
7. Think about what you mean by forgiveness. It is important that in the process of forgiving a person, we do not condone the abuse. What happened to you was wrong. Child abuse is always bad. If you forgive the perpetrator, it must be with the understanding that you decided to bear no malice toward the person(s) that have committed a grievous offense against you. It is an act of pardon, not of exoneration.
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There is hope in your future.