Millions of people have experienced the horrors of childhood abuse, including emotional, sexual, and physical violence. As horrific as these experiences are, it is possible to heal after abuse and reclaim your happiness and your spirit. It takes patience, effort, and a willingness to step out from those childhood shadows, but by taking these steps, you can finally begin to heal.
All victims of childhood abuse should consider working with a trusted and experienced therapist. It might take a couple tries until you find the therapist that best suits your individual personality and your unique needs, but when you find the perfect therapist, he or she will be an invaluable resource for you during this journey of healing. There is simply no replacement for therapy sessions, and when combined with other self-actualization and healing techniques, it can be a recipe for success.
In therapy, you will learn a variety of techniques, a few of which are listed here:
Learning to be angry and sad. It might sound counterintuitive, but one of the main reasons that abuse victims cannot move forward is because they will not allow themselves to be sad, angry, and otherwise upset. Instead, they try to fight those feelings and try to cope in other ways (such as by drinking or abusing drugs). Rather than avoiding those difficult emotions and denying their existence, therapy will teach you how to really feel those emotions and then release them so you can move forward. By keeping all those emotions inside, you’ve likely wounded yourself further — physically and emotionally. You can’t move forward and embrace the possibilities of the future until you first release the pain of your past.
Learning to let go. Forgiveness is an admirable human trait, but for many people, it is unthinkable to forgive an abuser. Therapy won’t necessarily ask that you forgive the man or woman who abused you, but it will teach you that your resentment and rage is literally poisoning you from the inside out. You will learn exercises that will help you let go of the hurt and channel it into a healthy outlet, such as by exercising or by volunteering at a local domestic-abuse shelter. Pain is an unavoidable part of the healing process, and for abuse victims, this pain can feel overwhelming, but you can find ways to take that pain and make something beautiful out of it.
Learning healthy coping mechanisms. No matter how much therapy you undergo or how centered and present you become, the reality is that there are still going to be some bad days. There are going to be days when you are overcome with sadness and anger as you recall your abuser and the trauma you suffered. Therapy can help you discover coping mechanisms for these painful times. Rather than reaching for a drink, a cigarette, or a doughnut, therapy can help you to cope in a healthier way, such as through mediation, yoga, or creative exercises such as journaling. As I said above, giving back to the community and helping fellow abuse victims is a wonderful way to ease the pain within — while easing someone else’s pain as well. Another healthy coping mechanism could be something as simple as cuddling with your pet dog or calling a good friend for a chat. The idea is to allow the bad emotions to come out without getting “stuck” in that negative frame of mind.
Ultimately, everyone’s journey to healing is different, but each is a wonderful tale of survival and the resilience of the human spirit. It is possible to create a beautiful life after a painful childhood, and by doing so, you can turn your life into a source of inspiration and comfort for other abuse victims.
For more information on abuse and how to find help, visit our abuse resources page.