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How can I heal after being raped as a child?

17 Answers
Last Updated: 06/01/2021 at 1:46pm
1 Tip to Feel Better
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Maria Anisia Dascalescu Cocan, MA

Marriage & Family Therapist

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Top Rated Answers
November 29th, 2014 7:43pm
You experienced an awful and reprehensible event at a time when you should have been protected and nurtured. Here are a few points on healing: 1. YOU ARE NOT YOUR PAST. This experience does not define you. Of course, it had/has an huge impact on you, but it is not the sum of you. You are not the 'person who was raped as a child'. That is not your identity. You are a multi-faceted human being full of light, uniqueness and potential, who happened to have a negative experience in your past through no fault of your own. Think of all the things about you that make you special (and I know there are many), the things you enjoy, the things of which you are proud. Reflect also on the positive aspects of your life, the things for which you are grateful. Work with a trusted friend or therapist if you struggle with this. Maybe write yourself an encouraging letter that reminds you of all the positive aspects of you and your life and put it some place where you can find it and read it when you are feeing low. 2. YOU ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE. You are/were in no way responsible for what occurred. Thoughts of guilt are natural reactions to traumatic events, but be clear with yourself, there is nothing you could have done differently to stop this from happening to you. You were a minor and you were taken advantage of by others who should have been responsible. Be strict with yourself about this. 3. HOW YOU HEAL IS INDIVIDUAL TO YOU. Don't set yourself too many expectations about 'healing.' You have been through a traumatic event at a time when you were to young to process it appropriately. You might have flashbacks as you mature, and you might begin to reflect on the experience in different ways, years after you thought you had 'healed'. Acknowledge (but don't dwell on) new thoughts about the past. Think about what triggers them and why. A new relationship, for example, might stir up strong emotions that act as triggers. No-one will ever understand your experience the same way you do, but consider telling those close to you what you went through so that they understand what triggers you and why. 4. YOU ARE THE EXPERT. People who have been through a traumatic event often have to get to know themselves more intimately than others. Observe your own patterns of thought and your behaviours so that you understand how your mind works and how your emotions are triggered. Consider what works personally for you when you have a bad day. What activities help you get back in the present? Be mindful of any negative self-talk and make a conscious effort to replace it with positive statements. This might be a work in progress but keep at it, and it will get easier. 5. CONSIDER PROFESSIONAL HELP. If you have not done so already, consider therapy with a trained professional. This is not about getting someone to tell you how to heal. It is finding the right support to help you heal yourself. There are some truly wonderful therapists out there with experience and expertise that can support what you are going through. If you don't click with one, try another. There is no shame in accessing therapy. You are working on yourself, and that is the most important and valuable project you will ever work on. 6. CONSIDER HELPING OTHERS. You have been through a lot. Your experience puts you in a position where you may be able to emphasise with others who have been through traumatic events and emotional pain. If you feel strong enough, you may find it mutually-beneficial to draw on your experiences and how you have coped to support others, or to be involved in a cause to support children who have been victims, for example. Thus bringing light and positivity out of something dark and destructive. 7. KEEP IT MOVING. It's natural to go through many phases of healing. And it can feel like you are going backwards. All of it is normal. I like to think of emotions as the weather. You may say, I feel sad. In the moment, it might feel all-encompassing and insurmountable. Your sadness may feel like a rainy day, or an angry storm. But weather always passes, it always transitions into another phase, and no two skies are the same. Likewise, your emotions move and change. In times of sadness, remember, this too shall pass. And, just as there are days of rain, so the sun will shine. Good luck
November 25th, 2014 11:42pm
I found taking back control and not giving the past any power and using my energy to support and help others understand the long term effects is healing !
December 1st, 2014 9:26am
That is different for every survivor. But my suggestions are, read. Read the autobiographies and blogs of other survivors. Talk. Even if it's anonymously over the internet, talking to people who have dealt with similar trauma may help you learn coping mechanisms. Introspect. You might need a therapist to help you do this, but try to list out all the ways the rape affected you and what you can do to slowly change this. Don't rush. Healing from trauma needs to be calm and steady.
November 25th, 2014 6:29am
First we need to accept that it's happened. We then need to talk to someone we trust that is experienced with sexual abuse so we understand that we aren't alone and we can move on with our lives knowing it wasn't our fault and their is nothing to be ashamed of.
August 24th, 2015 5:34pm
You need to be patient with yourself, accepting it happened is a very important step. I also found educating yourself and allowing yourself to express the hurt within you very healing. Analyse your thoughts and feelings around it and its ok if they are two completly different things. Often survivors of CS know rationally that it was not their fault but they can still feel the misguided self blame and guilt. Utilise those those rational thoughts to self soothe your inner child, and when those feelings arise remind yourself that you wouldn't blame others if it happened to them. Treat yourself the way you would if it was good friend who was going through a tough time. If you are suffering from feeling self hatred please challenge those thoughts and seek support either from trusted family and friends or professional help. It may have been a long time ago but healing usually can't occur until the pain is processed properly and sometimes your minds way of doing that is through flashbacks. Flashbacks can be scary and cause alot of distress but thinking of them as my minds way of trying to heal by showing those images and memoris so the feeling around them can be processed in a healthy way. They are mere images, echos of the past and can't physically hurt you anymore. Healing comes from acceptance and developing coping mechanisms.
November 25th, 2014 8:33am
Realize that what happened wasn't your fault, and that you deserve to move ahead. Be around positive people who do not blame you or constantly bring it up. Slowly, try and eliminate the memory from your mind completely. The process may be a difficult one, but it's always good to talk to someone about it if you're ever feeling down. Someone willing to listen, someone who will not judge you, someone you're close to, or even someone professional. Remember that time heals all wounds.
November 28th, 2014 6:56am
I do not think that this is something that you can ever fully heal from, however, I do think there are things you can do to move on and live a normal life. Some of these things include: -Talking about it (with a specialized professional and friends/family who can support you regularly.) -Medication can also be a big help -Support group for people who have gone through similar things -Learning about what happened to you -(Personal to me) Praying -Rediscovering who you are and who you want to be. This is such a difficult and traumatic thing to go through, and no body should have to deal with it alone. Support is key to getting through this. Keep you hear up, and know that whoever did this horrible thing to you, they are the bad one and you are still pure, precious, and worthy of love.
April 8th, 2015 5:17pm
First tell yourself that it wasn't your mistake. Not the clothes you were wearing nor the time of when it happened, nothing was your fault. And you have nothing to be ashamed of.
October 25th, 2015 10:05pm
Accept it like its a car accident. Its something bad that you didnt want that happened. You cant control that.
June 21st, 2016 7:11am
I can understand how it feels going through a traumatic mishap like that especially when at a tender age. Don't get disheartened. Take a step ahead towards life and be strong. You can get over it only when you possess the courage. Consult a therapist for more counselling.
December 9th, 2019 11:03am
I am sorry to hear that you had to through such a terrible experience. I honestly cannot imagine how it feels. But I can tell that you are being so brave to seek for help. I genuinely believe that talking about it is the first steps towards healing. I am happy to hear from you if you need to talk about it, but please check the 7cup support offered and consider talking to a therapist as well. If you don't feel comfortable talking about it yet, you might find helpful to have a look in the community chat where people share their experiences with other victims of sexual abuse.
December 19th, 2014 1:23pm
First and foremost realise that it wasn't your fault. You could not have done anything different. You deserve respect, love and compassion from others :) Unfortunately , there will be people out there who dont understand. But there are professionals out there who can and other survivors. Share with them :) I cant even began to understand what you must be feeling but if you ever need to vent. Message me
- Expert in Domestic Violence
December 21st, 2014 7:20pm
It can be tough but one of the things I've found is actually opening up to someone you trust, letting them know that you are safe but need a little support to work through things. There can be a lot of buried feelings and you may find some sort of therapy helpful
December 25th, 2014 6:39am
Rape is a terrifying and scarring ordeal, but as you grow up, it is important to reach out for help and share your story with somebody you trust, because no matter what it feels like, rape is never the victims fault.
May 22nd, 2015 9:44pm
Try something that makes you feel better or talk to someone about what happened to you they might have he answers or know exactly what your going through.
May 1st, 2018 12:09pm
It is important to find a therapist that is experienced and trusted. The therapist might be able to help you deal with this traumatic experience
June 1st, 2021 1:46pm
I'm really sorry that you had to go through all this. I can imagine how hard this must have been for you. It is unfair that this happened. You might be feeling fear, shame, guilt or anger. It can be really hard to deal with. Please remember that none of that was your fault. You didn't deserve to be treated that way. It's totally okay to be confused or angry about why it had to happen to you instead of someone else. It's only normal to be feeling this way. Your feelings are very much valid. I'm here for you to talk. We will get through this together.