As we talk about healing from sexual abuse this week, if this starts to stir up emotions for you, please talk to someone with whom you trust and feel safe. Beginning to deal with memories and suppressed feelings can throw your life into chaos. Remember this is only a stage and it won't last forever. This emergency stage is a natural part of the healing process and there will be a time when the sexual abuse isn't what you think about all the time (we promise!!!). Here's what you can do to survive the Emergency Stage:
- Don't hurt or try to kill yourself. You deserve to live. If you feel suicidal or want to hurt yourself, call or reach out to someone. If you're saying to yourself, "I don't have anyone", then call 911. They will get you to safety.
- Understand you're NOT going crazy. The panic that you're feeling is natural. Breathe. Breathe.
- Get skilled professional support. You need to be surrounded by friends who are helpful, but you also need a professional who can help you heal through this process too. Search for someone who specializes in sexual abuse too. Many professionals are well-intentioned, but ill-equipped.
- Get support from other survivors. Other survivors know exactly what you need. No one else other than a survivor will be able to listen as much as you need them to.
- Allow yourself to obsess. Accept your circumstances for where you are. Don't beat yourself up for the natural things you're doing.
- Do nice things for yourself. Nurture yourself, love yourself, give yourself grace and patience.
- Drop what isn't essential in your life. This can be part of doing nice things for yourself. Drop unsupportive people, quit activities that are too stressful, lighten your workload. Only do the necessary things during this emergency healing stage.
- Create a safe area in your home. Make one room in your home your safe haven. One room that you can go to release the steam and pressure of the day & of the circumstances.
- Eat healthy and watch your intake of drugs and alcohol. Numbing your feelings with food or drugs and alcohol will not solve the problem and will only prolong the crisis.
- Develop a belief in something greater than yourself. Spirituality often gives people strength when they feel as though they've hit the end of the road for themselves. Reminding yourself that "Something Greater" is watching over you will allow you to stay focused and remind yourself that the way you feel right now will not be the same one year from now.
Again, as Teri mentioned yesterday, if you are a survivor of 20 years, or if you just recently experienced sexual abuse, you can make the choice to heal. Find someone who is emotionally safe and caring to be supportive and there with you through the ups and downs. We have alot of information to share with you throughout the rest of the week. Tomorrow Alexa is going to discuss trusting your own perceptions of the abuse & why it's important to remember what happened. Thank you for reading.
Written by: Tamara Wilhelm MA, LMHC
*Tamara enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, & couples counseling at Imagine Hope. We also specialize in family counseling, child & adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield & Fishers.