The path to healing after sexual abuse

Carmen BryceBlog posts

Sexual abuse can leave the victim feeling helpless, alone, and scared.

Some victims of sexual assault, abuse and harassment may keep the abuse hidden, fearing blame, judgement or unwanted pity. They may fear that people will look at them differently or treat them in a certain way.

This understandable fear can be a significant barrier to breaking the wall of silence and starting the healing process.

MyMind has team members who can help with this journey. We want to empower you to take your own steps to overcoming these emotional and mental barrier.

If you have experienced or are living with sexual abuse, please, please do get in touch with us. Call our team at 076 680 1060 or email hq@mymind.org. Alternatively you can book an appointment online here.

You don’t have to try to heal alone.

The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre say, “No matter how great the victims difficulty in coping with the assault, it does not mean that s/he has developed serious or permanent psychiatric or emotional problems. The victim of sexual violence can and do recover and reclaim their lives.”

If a loved one has been sexually abused or assaulted, it’s very hard to know what to do.

The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre have some suggestions on how you can help.

You have an important role to play in helping the person who has been sexually assaulted or raped in his or her recovery. You can give the same comfort and support you would give to anyone in crisis, be it due to a bereavement, an illness, or a sexual assault or rape.

  • The victim may have many difficult feelings -rage, helplessness, fear, guilt, anxiety, depression etc. It will be helpful to have somebody s/he can trust to listen as the feelings emerge. Don’t try to make him or her ‘forget about it’. Let him or her talk, if s/he needs to, without probing for details.
  • Be aware that the victim may find it difficult to talk, or may not always wish to talk. Try to be open and available without placing him or her under pressure.  Let him or her know about the support available from an RCC without pressure.
  • Reassure him or her of your belief and support, that the assault was not their fault, and that people care about them. Understand that it can be very painful and difficult to talk about what happened.
  • On a practical level you may be able to offer help with everyday tasks which the victim may find difficult to cope with, and offer support in his or her attempts to resume a normal life. Other practical support might include accompanying him or her to the doctor, the Gardaí or to court.
  • Rape and sexual assault can affect a victim’s feelings about sexuality. This may, for a time, impact on intimate relationships, and sensitivity to this from a partner will be very helpful.
  • Be aware that helping someone you love to cope with the impact of rape or sexual assault will take a toll on you as well. You may need to talk to somebody about your own feelings and concerns.
  • Remember, it may take some time for the victim to recover from the experience. Try not to put pressure on him or her to get back to normal before s/he is ready or able. You can be there as a practical support as they take each small step back to wellness.