As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I realize that there are many challenges to overcome along life’s path. Growing up, and even into adulthood, I remember walking around with the feeling that, “everybody knew.” I thought they could tell just by looking at me, that I was somehow, damaged and that it was visible to all. As you can imagine, this made me very self conscious. I realized that I was trying to be invisible. I could feel myself shrinking when I would go out in public or when meeting someone new. I was afraid to try new things. If this sounds familiar to any of you, I want to reassure you of one important fact. There is nothing, I repeat,nothing, to be ashamed of, or to blame yourself for. It was not your fault and you are perfect just as you are.
One of the most important steps you can take as a survivor of sexual abuse is to learn to love yourself. It may seem like a foreign concept to you, as it did to me. However, self love makes the process of healing possible. There are many different ways that you can learn to overcome the self loathing that is often a result of sexual abuse and begin to enjoy your life to the fullest. After all, don’t you deserve to be happy? The answer is yes!
Here are some of the tools you can use while learning to love yourself.
Sometimes we are not even aware of our negative feelings about ourselves and this is where a therapist can help you to recognize and to begin your journey through recovery.
2) Positive Affirmations
These are thoughts, sentences or ideas which you repeat to yourself daily or as needed. I found them to be an essential part of the healing process. There are books containing positive affirmations and you can also find positive affirmations on the internet or you can create your own. Here are a few to get you started.
I am a good person who deserves to be happy.
I love myself unconditionally.
I can take control of my life.
3) Take Care Of Yourself
Eat well including fruits, vegetables and lots of water in your diet.
Exercise. This helps prevent depression and gives you more energy.
Sleep. Get plenty of rest.
4) Have Faith
Have faith in God, a higher power, a universal love or whatever you believe in. I have found that faith is an essential part of the recovery process.
Above all, be patient with yourself. Accept that this was part of your past and that in many ways you are a stronger person for having gone through the abuse and survived. Be proud of who you are and start to love yourself TODAY!
By Johanne R. Deschamps