Rape took your power for a moment, not a lifetime.
Talking frankly about rape and sexual assault is incredibly difficult.
I have worked with a number of people who have been raped or sexually molested. I have also worked with counselors at a women’s refuge. And, I myself was abused. What I have to say here comes from experience, not theory. I've seen first hand how challenging it can be to heal after experiencing this kind of trauma.
But, it's so important to me to help rape survivors move forward, gain the closure they need, and, once again, feel in charge of their life and their own thinking.
Because when someone is raped, they tend to feel like a victim.
And feeling like a victim is very disempowering. It makes you feel as if you’re drowning. Like you’ve lost control of your life and have no power of your own to take it back. If you hold on to this image of yourself as being a victim, you will always be afraid that it might happen again, or that maybe next time, something worse will occur. Because if you couldn’t prevent it the first time, you won’t be able to the next.
My main aim with my clients (and with the counselors I've worked with) was to shift how they see themselves (and view people who have been raped) so that survivors could start to trust life again.
I noticed in my work with people who were abused or raped that in every story of events, there was a moment that person felt uncomfortable with a decision they had made. It could have been their decision to walk home alone, to go out with a certain person, or to drink more than usual. There was a moment they felt uneasy. They had a nagging little voice that they ignored, and knowing they ignored that voice made them feel terrible.
Learning to listen to this little inner voice is your way to forward.
That voice knows you better than anyone else. The problem is: We're brought up in a world that teaches us not to trust ourselves or our inner voice. We're told that someone else (our parents, teachers, etc.) always "know better" than we do, even about our own life.
However, the moment you realize that this is not true and only you know what is truly good for you — and that you always have a choice, even when it doesn't feel like you do — that's the moment you can start learning to hear and trust your own little inner voice again. By listening to it and honoring its wisdom, you can then start to steer your life by it and begin to trust life.
Be kind to yourself. As you learn to regain a feeling of control in your life again, being gentle with yourself is key to your recovery.
In the abusive relationship I was in, it was only when I realized that I had allowed my partner to abuse me that I then realized I had the power to leave. When I was still blaming him, I wanted to punish him and make him see the error of his ways. I wanted him to hurt as much as I did. I wanted him to suffer.
Of course, being a survivor of rape or sexual abuse is very different.
But, by wanting him to suffer, I was actually causing myself more pain; I was the one still suffering, and that is something many survivors of rape might relate to. You will likely always feel tied to the event if you hold onto trying to make the perpetrator suffer.
The only way to take back that power is when you realize that you steer your life. No one else does!
When you embrace this, then you are free to take your life in a totally new (and far more wonderful) direction.
You have so much more power than you realize!