There are many forms of abuse. Survivors of sexual abuse carry a particular stigma when striving to overcome the shameful feelings and embarrassment that may come with exposure to the trauma. Childhood survivors of abuse carry the additional burden of having to confront family members and respected members of the community.

Recognize the Trauma

The trauma of abuse becomes a life-long burden when the power of the abuser turns inward on the victim. There is an inherent self-loathing that some survivors develop. According to Psych Central, this horrible internal dialogue has power that can last for years. A great deal of recognizing how the trauma manifests in everyday activities is bringing that voice into the light. Working with a therapist who can help you break away from these abusive thoughts is key. If you don’t know if you’re struggling with a self-abusive thought process, ask yourself if you can take a compliment. If not, there’s something at work in your mind that isn’t on your side.

Accept the Challenge

Once you are an abuse sufferer, the loss of control and lack of safety become your new normal. As you accept the work it will take to overcome this thought process and mindset, understand that this burden is separate from the physical horrors of abuse. That was then, and it needs to be grieved and even railed against. The life trauma that continues in your head, makes relationships difficult and reduces your self-confidence is a different condition and will take different work. The wounds of abuse do not heal easily. According to WB&T, this is particularly true in cases of abuse where the position of trust is violated. Victims of clergy abuse can suffer for years or even decades later.

The Fight Against Victim-Blaming

While there is justifiable outrage around the idea of childhood sexual abuse, many adult women face a treacherous backlash of victim-blaming after sexual assault. In addition to the normal culture of shame that surrounds episodes of sexual abuse, according to The Center for Relationship Abuse Awareness, many women face further abuse by the legal system. The power of the rapist is held up by a system that promotes the concept that predatory sexual behavior is a normal state for straight males and women must be the bulwark against which this behavior is checked.

Survivors of sexual abuse may have to go to battle with many enemies. Family loyalties, and even the Catholic Church, have gotten in the way of justice and healing for these survivors for far too long. With the right help and a supportive community, healing can occur.

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