Throughout this week And He Restoreth My Soul Project will post Three Stages of Recovery a sex abuse healing approach by Rachel Grant.
Based on my own experience I believe healing is possible, however, it was difficult at times to know where I was in the healing process and felt I had made no progress. My therapist’s explanation was “each time you reach a new a different stage of healing it often feel as if you’ve made no progress at all, but, in reality you have made great progress.”
Three Stages of Recovery is designed to help identify and navigate through the healing process. Rachel’s program does not eliminate the work required by the abused, but it provides a map of progression.
The support system is critical to the healing process. Working with a Therapist and a Coach who specializes is a great start to building a viable support system.
Now, I take great pleasure in introducing Ms Grant and the program she designed. You will find it educational, informational and a helpful resource if you are suffering from sexual violence.
Today Stage One. Tuesday Stage Two and Thursday Stage Three.
Rachel Grant is the owner and founder of Rachel Grant Coaching and is a Sexual Abuse Recovery Coach. She works with survivors of childhood sexual abuse who are beyond sick and tired of feeling broken, unfixable, and burdened by the past. She helps them let go of the pain of abuse and finally feel normal. She is also the author of Beyond Surviving: The Final Stage in Recovery from Sexual Abuse.
Rachel holds anM.A. in Counseling Psychology. She provides a compassionate and challenging approach for her clients while using coaching as opposed to therapeutic models. She is a member of the International Coach Federation & San Francisco Coaches.
Learn more at www.rachelgrantcoaching.com.
It’s Your Turn to Heal: A Step-By-Step Guide to Overcoming the Pain of Childhood Sexual Abuse
When Darlene asked me to write a piece for her community, I spent some time thinking about what we as survivors struggle with most. What I realized is that many survivors feel lost or confused as to how best to even go about recovering from sexual abuse and are often worried that the support we are getting might be hurting more than helping? Another thing that comes up is that we feel like we are actively, conscientiously doing the work of recovery and yet don’t seem to be making any progress.
I personally know how frustrating it can be to want to heal from the pain of sexual abuse and yet nothing you are doing is working. But you don’t have to spend another minute wasting your time, emotions, and energy beating your head against the wall and feeling defeated.
Today, I want to give you a brief overview of the three stages of recovery, how to identify which stage of recovery you are in, what the goals of recovery are for each stage, and the types of support to seek out based on where you are in your journey, as well as an opportunity to dive deeper if you choose.
WHY DO WE EVEN USE THE TERM SURVIVOR?
In the world of recovery, there has been a shift from applying the word “victim” to “survivor” in describing those who have been abused. This shift shows up in all areas of abuse: domestic violence, rape, sexual abuse, and verbal and physical abuse.
Unlike “victim”, the word “survivor” conveys strength, is empowering, and emboldens one as he or she begins the journey of recovery. The intent of replacing “victim” with “survivor” was also done to distinguish the moment of one’s abuse (victim) from one’s present existence and experience (survivor).
While “survivor” does much to improve upon the word “victim,” it doesn’t go far enough in framing an identity that leads to a thriving and powerful life.
This is why I’ve come to think further beyond these terms of recovery and create a three stage process—from victim, to survivor, and finally to Beyond Survivor™.
STAGE 1: VICTIM
At this stage in recovery, you may either be currently experiencing abuse or you may have not yet been able to acknowledge the abuse you experienced. Dismissing and denying what happened, or is happening, is the name of the game at this stage.
You can be caught in a cycle of blaming yourself for the abuse, making excuses for the abuser’s behavior, and/or hiding the abuse from others. You may be using coping mechanisms like withdrawal, isolation, alcohol or drugs, food, and others to avoid or mask the pain.
One of the most difficult steps in recovery can be the acknowledgement that one was, in fact, a victim of abuse. You may find it difficult to accept that the actions taken against you by your abuser actively harmed and injured you against your will. This is understandable, because in doing so, one needs to define the person harming you as “an abuser,” alongside other definitions like brother, mother, father, neighbor or teacher. This acknowledgment also causes you to accept that you are not always in control and that bad things can happen.
However, in accepting and acknowledging that what you experienced was abuse, you have taken the first step on the road to recovery. So, acknowledgment, rather than resolution or strategy, should be your focus at the victim stage.
What are the goals of recovery for someone at this stage:
- Acknowledge that your current or past experience is, in fact, abuse.
- Understand that you deserve safety, to be cared for, and that the abuse was a major violation.
- Become willing to face and acknowledge the hurt and the pain you are experiencing.
- Seek support in getting away from your abuser should you still be in an abusive situation.
- Stop minimizing or dismissing the abuse and instead acknowledge and honor your experience.
What types of support should someone seek out if they are in this stage?
- Chat rooms and forums that provide a safe space to begin talking about one’s experience and receive comfort from fellow victims. I recommend Pandora’s Aquarium.
- Make you aware of shelters and other organizations that help one to safely leave an abusive environment.
- Newsletters, blogs, and videos as resources and encouragement.
Most important at this stage is understanding you are not responsible for the abuse. You did nothing to cause the abuse to happen, it is not your fault, and you deserve to heal and move on.
Rather than trying to escape the impact through minimization and dismissal, you need to take the time needed to fully acknowledge the extent to which you have been changed or hurt, and to what extent that experience is interfering with your current relationships and present ability to have a life that you love.
In doing so, you will find it easier to deal with areas of your lives that have been impacted. You will see the importance of your abuse, rather than remaining stuck, hurt, or angry because of a continued belief that your hurt wasn’t “great enough” or “big enough” to justify attention, to warrant reflection, or to be worthy of seeking support.