#1) Believe deep down it is not your fault, no matter what the actions were leading up to the rape, you need to know and accept there is nothing that justifies rape and you didn’t do anything to deserve it! Everyone I talk to feels guilty or ashamed in one form or another, but what you don’t understand is the person that is deserving of the guilt and shame is the person that chose to do the rape, NOT YOU! The rape was not about anything you did, it is about the attacker needing control and they are responsible for their actions NOT YOU!!!
#2) You need to try and do your best to deal with your feelings as they arise. I’ve learned that in order to feel like a survivor you face them head on. You have two options, deal with them head on or run from them. The problem is when you run, your demons become your shadow and you can never outrun your shadow, so it is best to try and deal with your emotions head on instead of trying to outrun something you can’t.
#3) The one thing I learned the hard way was that none of my loved ones reacted they way I thought they would, so I immediately was more concerned with their thoughts and actions than my own healing process. I see this almost every time when counseling a survivor. The first thing I hear is, “What is my family (often spouse/partner) going to think?” or “how are they going to react?” My typical response is, “I know you are worried about their reactions BUT aren’t you more worried about your well being for you and your family?” Before you expend your energy on controlling someone else’s feelings (when ultimately you can’t) you should take that energy to heal yourself. Because you truly need to believe that you did nothing to lead up to the rape and know in your heart it wasn’t your fault. When YOU realize it doesn’t matter what you were wearing, where you were at or what you were doing, then it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks! The bottom line is you have to take care of yourself first before you can take care of anyone else!
#4) Surround yourself with the people who support you and distance yourself (at least temporarily) from those who don’t.
#5) Find the positive in something everyday and focus on it no matter how small or stupid it is. A lot of days you will have to dig deep to find it, even if it is splurging on a dessert or watching your favorite TV show, but you must find something positive everyday to keep you going. This will also help train your brain that you can block out the negative.
#6) Remember that you can’t change the past so stop focusing on it with – shoulda, coulda, woulda – because it doesn’t matter since the past can’t be changed. If you are focusing on something you wished you would have done differently or beating yourself up with something you did, then you do not believe it wasn’t your fault, step #1. YOU MUST BELIEVE THAT IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT and until you do you have a long struggle in your recovery. Remember NOTHING JUSTIFIES RAPE!
#7) Focus on what you DO have control of and that is your future. The day I stopped letting my assaulter control my life is the day I realized I could be dead. At that moment (about 9 months later) even though I knew my assaulter took something from me, I realized he did not take my life and I wasn’t about to give him another day of MY life! He doesn’t deserve it, not one more minute! I felt this huge relief that I sat down and cried for hours. From that day on I stopped worrying about my past and what anyone else thought and focused on appreciating the life I had left. Now I’m not saying I skipped off into the sunset, but that was the day I stopped feeling sorry for myself (those emotions are allowed – for a while) and picked myself up and took a step forward instead of backwards.
#8) DO NOT turn to drugs and alcohol to mask the pain, once again you MUST FEEL IN ORDER TO HEAL. Alcohol and/or drugs are only a temporary fix and does absolutely nothing to solve the problem other than to push it deeper. You must deal with it and the more you feel and release, the more room you have to heal.
#9) DON’T rely on anyone else to heal you. You will heal as much as you put the work into it. Hopefully you will have support, but you need to know while it is OK to accept help from others, only you can heal yourself. Healing yourself through some type of professional counseling, whether group, individual or anonymously. A lot of cities offer free counseling or support groups through their local crisis centers. There are your some church groups or if you health insurance (make sure mental health is covered under your plan) use that. Some employers have EAP (employee assistance programs) that are completely anonymous even to your employer and usually offer a couple free visits. Go to rainn.org to find the closest counselor to you. There are so many resources, just make the commitment to start helping yourself and you’ll find a way!
#10) While the above suggestions are more long term, I would like to make some suggestions for baby steps that can help “right now”. My most successful suggestion is to right down your feelings at the end of the day (good or bad) whatever they are just as a release. This is good for survivors or immediate family members trying to cope as well. It is up to you whether or not you keep it, it is just a way for you to get your honest and true emotions out and not keep them deep inside you, which only fester. Warms baths are great before bed along with a good book to take me away, if even for 30 minutes. I always try to keep a book in purse, dvd at home or cd in car that I love and makes me feel good that I can immediately turn to to brighten my mood. And if you don’t have a pet, get one! Pets are amazing and offer true unconditional love BUT make sure you have the time to love and nurture your pet and you will get nothing less back!
#11) Think about taking a self defense class. After being raped your sense of security is shot and an excellent way to start to get it back is taking a self defense class. It is very empowering and a good confidence builder.
#12) Try yoga (if you don’t alreaady), it is truly amazing how it makes you feel calm and can just release the stress and anxiety. Never tried it until after my rape and I still have the same at home beginner dvds I’ve used for years, but I love them and I truly feel empowered, strong and relaxed when I’m done. They say you can heal your body through your breathing and I believe it. Tell me you don’t feel a little better after you take a few big deep breaths. Well, when you are doing yoga, not only is your body trying to align and release your stress you are holding in your body, but you are really breathing the whole time and getting oxygen to your entire body, which is not only a calming affect but helps the tightness in your muscles to release. So trust me just try it a few times, you don’t have to do it perfect (which is why I do it at my house) but I always feel better afterwards, never fails..
996 thoughts on “Steps in The Healing Process”
I had got raped by my mom’s husband and I told her five years later and then the cop that I had talked to did not belive me and I just left it at that.. and now I got raped recently by my bf brother and I told my bf two days ago and now I keep blaming my self and I don’t n
know how to handle it please help..
J. I hope your boyfriend believed you and is giving you support. I would strongly recommend you taking a self defense class and counseling. The fact that this started with you as a baby and has happened twice when you were older you need to learn how to protect yourself. The counseling is a necessity for moving forward. I also hope your mother isn’t with the man that raped you anymore. And if your boyfriend isn’t supporting you then you need to get as far away from him as possible. One thing is stop blaming yourself. This is something that happened to you, you didn’t ask to get raped so put the blame where it belongs on him. But get the counseling as soon as you can because even if your bf is being supportive he can’t help you like a professional can. The sooner you get into counseling the better. Stay strong! Lynn
Hello. I would like to know if what happened to me was rape. I had broken up with my ex about 6 months before when I decided to call him and invite him to my home so we could make out. I was 16 and still really in love with him. He came by and suddenly he started getting really into it and taking out my clothes and I simply did, because we used to make out naked, even not having sex. But then without explaining himself he took a condom, wore it and came to me. I was scared because I was a virgin, but I was also really afraid of disappointing him because I really wanted him back, but I was not prepared to loose my virginity as it was really important to me who would be the first and how it would be. I told him to stop but he put it inside me anyway. I didn’t push him back, I didn’t fight back, I was just stupidly telling him to stop scared of disappointing him. It hurted SO much as I wasn’t wet and when it started bleeding he simply passed one finger, showed me the blood and said ‘congratulations’ as I had JUST lost my virginity. He was finishing himself while I kept asking him to stop or at least for a break and then he left me crying at the door. I was so stupid not to fight back!!!! Was that a rape? Today I am 18 and I finally stopped pretending it didn’t happen. It hurts.
GM Yes that was rape which is probably why it is bothering you so much. You did not give him consent, you said no and he didn’t listen. It doesn’t matter that you didn’t fight back, it’s still rape. Hopefully you don’t have any further contact with him. Just remember No means No! Stay strong. Lynn
I was 12 when I was first raped, and it was continuous till I was 15. I was always go scared to tell anyone.
When I told my mum she didn’t believe me, dropped me to the police station with most of my belongings and left me there, this was last year and I haven’t spoke to her since. She disowned me and kicked me out of my own home which I helped her pay for because of my career.
I was moved to a care home for 2 months until social services contacted my dad and he came to pick me up.
My own mother didn’t believe that her boyfriend had raped me and I haven’t really known how to deal with being raped continuously for 3 years and then losing my mum, I now have no self esteem but I’m still doing my job and I’m now helping my dad and his girlfriend and her children by supporting them and their every need.
I’m still finding it hard to cope but my career keeps me happy, I love what I do and I love inspiring the people that enjoy what I do. I’m 16 now and I have severe depression and still have my counciling, but I suppose everything’s getting better with time and support.
If you’ve been raped, it’s honestly not your fault and just hold up, it all gets better eventually and things will start looking up for you if you just hold on.
I hope time and patience brings you happiness and don’t forget to believe in yourself.
VT Your mothers actions are really horrible and I’m so sorry for what you have been through. But I am glad you are away from your rapist. I’m also glad to see you are in counseling and in a safe place. Thanks for your encouraging words to others, you are stronger than you realize! Stay strong! Lynn
The nightmares are coming back. It’s been 7 months and I thought they were over. I recovered very well and very quickly the first time, but now I’m scared I just repressed everything. I’ll randomly burst into tears and have to stop working. It was my best friend, I thought he had my back. We were hanging out celebrating my promotion. I was so drunk off just a couple drinks and I hate that the nightmares bring me back and I have to go through everything all over again. The paranoia is the worst. I’m in the Army so I’m supposed to trust everyone to have my back, but that’s what he had told me and I woke up naked and bleeding in the middle of the floor all alone. If someone comes too close to me I nearly have a panic attack ever since the nightmares came back. This time I haven’t been able to bounce back. I feel bad because my husband can’t touch me without me flinching, and then he feels like he did something wrong. I’ve been spending so much energy trying to understand why it happened and how someone can do that, I’m afraid I haven’t really healed at all. I know I shouldn’t be thinking about that at all, but I can’t help myself. I’m a very logical guy who needs to have answers and I just don’t. Ice done hours and hours of research, but I can’t understand. I am lucky to have people who support me, but they just can’t comprehend all the factors which affect me. How do I get my thoughts back on the healing process and will I have to go through the whole process every time the episodes of nightmares come back?
SWM What you need to understand is this doesn’t just go away, it is something we must learn to deal with through counseling. I’m glad to hear you have supportive friends but that’s all they can do is support you they can’t help you heal, that is a professional job. The reason the nightmares are returning is because by you not getting counseling and trying to act normal and wait for it to go away is suppressing those feelings. And when suppressed they start to affect you in all facets of your life. The longer you wait the longer it will take to heal. Just read through some of these post, it doesn’t matter if it happened last week or 20 years ago, until you get the proper counseling it will continue to fester inside of you until it completely takes you over mentally and physically. I’m sure the Army offers counseling but if not get it privately just get it because you are worth it. It will help with your marriage too. You’ve already taken the first step for help in coming here so now take the next step to counseling. Stay strong! Lynn
This inspired me so much. I was sexually harrassed when I was 4, and raped my sophomore and senior year of high school, and my first semester as a freshman in college (I just finished my first year). My mom didn’t believe that I was raped, so she only knows about one. I saw my school counselor a lot until I’d convinced her that I was Fine but I’m really not. I started taking yoga and kickboxing classes to help with the anger, and it is all starting to help. And I have you to thank for that.
A. Thank you so much I love to hear when I am able to help someone and it’s working. However don’t give up on the counseling because you stated yourself that you aren’t fine. Maybe even consider joining group counseling with other survivors. You can build lifelong friendships and hear how others cope that might work for you. Just a thought. It takes work but it is worth it and so are YOU!!!! Stay strong, Lynn
I have been raped two days ago. I am grateful that my rapist did not kill me. even if he tried to kill me by struggling me, I managed to overpower him and escaped ! I am grateful am alive and that is what is important right now. the great news again is the police managed to arrest him. now the problem is facing the man who raped me in court tomorrow.
T. I’m so proud of you to see the positive right now, you are SO STRONG! And I don’t want you to worry about facing him in court because you facing him is telling him that you are taking your life back, he didn’t take it from you! You can stand proud with your head held high because this is your life and he can’t have it. Because rape isn’t about you it’s about control and you are telling him loud and clear that he CAN NOT control you. And I want you to think when you are in court how you got this guy off the street so he can’t hurt others! You be strong and proud! Lynn
I am reaching out because you mentioned in your bio that you conduct rape counseling. I feel guilty reaching out when I have just read some of the comments above and most people have suffered such traumatic events, and mine was less traumatic. I suffered a rape two years ago and never talked much about it and did not receive counseling but instead I got on with my life. But now I am finding that it makes me more and more upset to think about. After my rape and for the year following I became slightly obsessed with rape. I don’t know if it was my way of processing the information. But now I am concerned because I still think about the incident fairly frequently. The moral of this is that I have already done or never had the need to do the steps of the healing process, but it still bothers me. Is this an experience that I should just to continue to live with or is there more you would suggest to find a way to deal with this completely.
Thank you for taking the time to read this convoluted email. I hope to hear back from you.
J. Let me start by saying ALL rape is traumatic it’s just different feelings you have to go through sometimes but it’s always traumatic so your rape doesn’t have less meaning. So let me explain that the longer you hold rape in the more it manifests itself, meaning it takes over. Coming up when least expected and controls your thoughts/dreams. You have to get it out through counseling. The more you let out and release the more room you have to heal. The longer you keep it in the more it takes over and I can promise you that it will show up in future relationships including with your relationships with your children. So the answer is and always is counseling. Your future is dependent upon it. Yes you will have to work for it but the outcome is far better than dealing with it this way the rest of your life AND you can’t even begin to understand how your future is affected without it. Well, maybe you can by reading the other posts! Stay strong! Lynn
when i was seven my cousin took advantage of me.He was not the only one many more of my other cousins did the same, i didn’t know what to do then because i was still recovering from the trauma of losing my Dad.Its been nine years now and i truely understand what they did to me but i cant help but blame myself for doing nothing.I don’t want anyone to know i just want it to be buried but the incident still haunts me.Please help
Me/CE. Unfortunately rape can’t be buried you have to talk to someone, preferably a counselor. You said it yourself it’s been nine years and you haven’t gotten over it, it’s because the longer you hold it in the more it manifests. The more you let out the more room you have to heal so see a professional and get the help you need. If you feel you can’t tell a family member don’t right now but tell a professional. I can promise you the longer you wait the more it controls your life, your future relationships and even your children. In fact if this was your child what would you want them to do? Ask yourself that and do the same! Be safe as I hope this still isn’t happening and stay strong! Lynn
Thank you! Good to know there is a possibility of getting the old me back x
when i was seven few of my cousins used me if i heard to put it in a why i would say i was they sex slave.when i became older i started to create excuses saying that i was to blame because i did nothing about it.i can never bring myself to tell anyone because i feel ashamed that it was my fault i didn’t do anything also i am afraid of being judged.i know i should do something because this thing is slowly affecting me and the people surrounding me but i don’t know where to start. please help what should i do
I am a woman of 24 years.i was raped by the age of 9 by a family member. I am afraid that nobody will listen to me.and breaking family.problem is that whenever I found a guy I can’t have sexual intercourse. I remember wat happened long ago.i can’t settle with someone cause rape haunt me. Wat can I do?????
Anonymous, I would seriously consider counseling and possible hypnotherapy. But counseling first so that you can determine (if you try hypnotherapy) exactly what you would like done in the hypnotherapy session. I’m hoping that you can/have distanced yourself from this family member as well. When you go to the counselor you can also talk to her (I suggest a woman) about if and how to tell your family. My main concern about this is if the person was an adult that did this too you that you probably weren’t the only one and their might be others dealing with this too. Another reason for counseling is that this has affected you since you were 9 meaning this person is still controlling your life, it’s time for you to take back control by dealing with it head on through counseling. As you are aware this doesn’t just go away so please seek counseling and take back control of your life as this person doesn’t deserve another minute of control. Stay strong, Lynn