Healing From Abuse Has No Time Frame — It's A Journey

It’s okay if your healing looks different than others.

woman healing from abuse Johnce / Getty Images via Canva

By Sabrina Sivert

Trigger warning: This piece describes instances of rape and sexual assault.

When I was 17, I was raped for the first time. My abuser would continually rape me for eight months. He would abuse me in every way possible — sexually, mentally, physically, and emotionally.

I lived through a situation that felt like a lifetime, where my body and mind were not mine. He controlled everything. Every time he touched me, I felt like my body was glass and was ready to shatter.


Every time he complimented me about my hair, my skin, my smell, and my clothes, I cried. I kept asking myself, “Is that why he’s doing this to me?” I began to hate all the things I once loved because of him.

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For months I didn’t feel safe. My rapist was a teacher for a program I was in to become a firefighter. The abuse would occur during school hours and school events. Every single day I’d wake up and have to face him all day without knowing what the day would bring.

Would it be the last time? Would he hurt me worse today than yesterday? Will he be mad at me again? How will I upset him? Will I have to make up another lie about why I’m hurt?

I never felt safe; he was everywhere, constantly watching me, threatening me, and reminding me that he was in control and would ruin me if needed. I was losing my mind more and more each day.

Slowly, I began completely shutting down, turning my mind off, and praying that one day it would stop. I was going insane, and no one was there to help me. I also began losing all trust in those around me.


Why was no one catching on? How could no one see what was happening? How could the ones who were supposed to protect me and keep me safe do this?

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All the trust I had was gone. My self-worth felt gone, and I didn’t know who I was anymore. And for a long while, all I felt was pain.

I’m sharing this with you all because even years after the abuse, I still struggle. Some days still feel so lonely. I have a great support system that I’m so thankful for, but I can still feel so isolated because none of them truly know the hell I lived through for so long.

The hell I still live after the abuse. And how badly I wish I could just forget it all or shut my mind off. So, if you ever feel alone, lost, or scared, just know I relate, and I’m always here.


The trauma I was left with sometimes feels unbearable to this day. No matter how much time passes, I will always live with all he did and all he said. And sadly even after all these years, he still finds a way to leave jabs in me.

For example, he moved to my hometown when he got released from jail, hired private investigators to find me, and finally got released early for “good” behavior. This is just a little glimpse of my life as a survivor.

Triggers can happen anytime and anywhere. For example, certain dates your mind can’t forget, news articles released with their photo, a smell, specific words, nicknames, a song, a sound like a deadbolt door locking, an outfit, and the list goes on and on. All it takes is one trigger, and all the pain comes rushing in. The nightmares begin again, with the anxiety, the fear, and the what-ifs flooding your mind.

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Healing is weird. Because some days you’re okay, but other days it still feels like it was yesterday.

I felt like there were times when I was being abused that my brain would shut off, and I’d imagine being anywhere but there. But then I’ll have a flashback and remember new things. There’s no time frame to healing — you just have to stay strong enough to get up and keep going every day.

I often have to remind myself how brave I was, how strong I was, and that I did survive. I have to remember that I went through some really hard things. And it’s okay that it still hurts so bad.


I want to remind you to give yourself grace, allow yourself to feel all the emotions, and never ever forget that you matter. And it’s okay if your healing looks different than others.

Anyone affected by sexual assault can find support on the National Sexual Assault Hotline, a safe, confidential service. Contact The Hotline or call 800-656-HOPE (4673) to be connected with a trained staff member.

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Sabrina Sivert is a writer, wife, and victim/survivor advocate who resides in Florida. Visit her Linktree account for more of her advocacy work.