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What are the 7 Steps to Healing from Childhood Sexual Abuse?

In Why Go Back? 7 Steps to Healing from Childhood Sexual Abuse we have developed a series of 7 steps to help you overcome the impacts of your abuse.  These steps are based on what worked for each of us regardless of the fact that we each reacted differently to our abuse.  We would strongly recommend that prior to beginning the steps you read the section called ‘About You’ .

Within this section of the book we have included a number of practical questionnaires designed to assist you in getting to know how you think, feel and operate in the world.  Armed with this information you will be better equipped to identify what supports you may need moving forward. This will also help you get the most out of using the steps.

Below are very brief descriptions of the 7 steps we have in the book.  The steps are designed to guide and support you through your healing journey. They provide practical suggestions to help you identify issues born from your abuse along with our own personal experience of using the step. This we hope may allow for a deeper understanding of the process and the emotional turmoil that accompanies it.

Step 1- Disclosure

Until you are ready to tell someone that you were abused you will remain stuck in a cycle of hurt and confusion.  Disclosure is all about breaking the silence and telling someone what happened. At this stage you do not need to go into details, that can come later when you are stronger.  The reasons why you may or may not have disclosed in the past is outlined within this step and will help build an understanding of the complexities involved when it comes to telling your story.

Abuse thrives on silence and secrecy so breaking the silence can be empowering and the first step to healing from your abuse.  Victims of abuse often carry feelings of blame so taking this first step can be the beginning of a new understanding around personal innocence.  

Step 2- Finding Support & Professional Help

This step is all about identifying what supports you may need. Once the silence has been broken it is essential that you are not left alone with your thoughts.  Someone to lean on and a professional to speak to can make the road less traumatic and can relieve unnecessary stress.

We include a number of practical suggestions on preparation when attending a professional therapist, what questions to ask.   We also include own experiences of seeking help, how we found the process and what helped us and what would have made the process easier.

Step 3 - Sharing Your Story

Within this step we discuss the importance of sharing your story, outline the difficulties involved in saying what happened.  We explain the possible damage of holding onto your story maybe having on your physical, emotional, and psychological health.

Until you share it may be impossible for you to see how you remain a prisoner to your abuse.  Sharing your story will only happen when you are ready. The purpose of sharing the details around your abuse is to aid your recovery.  We provide practical information around identifying who to tell, how to share safely, how to manage your expectations around possible responses you may receive.

Step 4 - Reading & Writing

We found that reading and writing were invaluable when it came to fully understand ourselves, our behaviours and the impacts the abuse had on us.  In this step we discuss the important role reading can play in recovery. How reading other victim’s stories can help you connect to your own experience and feel less isolated.  We also provide a number of writing exercises designed to help you uncover hidden memories and emotions. In uncovering these memories, you can find a way to release the pain and move forward.

Step 5 - Sex After Sexual Abuse

This step was a difficult one for each of us as anything around sexuality can be complex and personal even if you have never suffered abuse. In this step we encourage the help of a professional to help you identify and manage the numerous ways in which you can be triggered during intimacy. We ask you to explore how you experience love and how you express yourself sexually. We provide some useful suggestions on minding yourself during intimacy and the importance of knowing you have a right to say no or stop at any time during intimacy.

Step 6 - Spirituality

This may sound off the wall to you but there is so much power to be gained by allowing your spirituality some air time. In this step we explore what or whom may have influenced your beliefs around spirituality. We discuss possible barriers to you engaging in a spiritual practice. We talk about the possible benefits to developing a spiritual practice that does not require any religious connections and provide some suggestions on how to support that practice moving forward.

Step 7 - Forgiveness

This is probably the most difficult step for victims of abuse, but the struggle is based on the pre-conceived idea of what forgiveness means.  In this step we explore exactly what forgiveness is, what are the implications of living a life of unforgiveness, what impacts it has on your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. We discuss who is the true beneficiary to forgiveness and understanding that to forgive does not require you to love or even like your abuser but letting them go creates positive space inside you for better things to come.

Where Did The Name Come From?

We knew when we started the book that the name would have to reflect the content. Our beliefs that Childhood sexual abuse cannot be overcome without  a willingness to revisit, examine and challenge the origins of your beliefs is why we feel that going back is the best road to recovery.

Our Beliefs Around Revisiting Your Abuse

We are aware of the fear people have around revisiting their abuse. Poor self- esteem and self-hatred is an absolute surety as part of the aftermath of being abused sexually.  

It can definitely prevent you delving into your past traumas, but we wanted to personally demonstrate the value of returning to the scene of the crime so to speak.

We believe that Childhood sexual abuse cannot be overcome without dedicated hard work. Those who suffer abuse can often question if something that happened at such a young age can influence them as adults.  

Childhood sexual abuse is a crime that infiltrates every aspect of your life. It damages how you think and feel about yourself and all those around you. It changes how you are in the world because you develop a new way of being making you completely unaware of how profoundly you have been impacted.

The biggest impacts of abuse are those that are hidden from the conscious mind. We wanted to make sure you are given all the information on just how your brain and thoughts have been changed as a result of your abuse. 

Your personality and behaviours are altered as a result of how you learned to survive the abuse. For us the need to challenge how you formed your beliefs is why going back is vital to your well-being.

Knowledge allows understanding to occur and is for us the only way to find your way out of the pain and into the light.    Painful memories are constantly triggered through seemingly innocuous things. i.e. a smell, a gesture, an old tv programme or a physical touch etc. Because of the nature of this crime victims carry the shame and guilt taking on the belief that they were responsible for or complicit in their abuse. 

These beliefs need to be challenged and we believe that ‘Why Go Back’ provides the tools to help do exactly that, thus eliminating any doubt of your innocence. Once you can see the reality of the abuse you can begin to reclaim your life.

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