This blog post is linked to the podcast episode (Season 2 Episode 7)
Note: no personal details of abuse are shared in this article
I recently published an episode on the podcast ‘Life after Sexual Abuse’ about this topic and as a visual person, decided to include the phases within a written blog for those that may also appreciate it. These phases are from my lived experience and therefore not limited or exhaustive to the phases of any healing process. I’d love to know if they resonate or whether you have a different experience - after all, I am here to hold all of the human experience with you here.
After 12 years of actively and consciously moving through and navigating healing after sexual trauma, I reflected upon the phases of my healing and saw a pattern. Twelve years on, I am continually healing - after all, healing is a verb not a final destination. The process of healing is most certainly not linear and therefore these phases aren’t ‘follow 1-5 and you reach the end’ but I hope that they illustrate how the process is ongoing and de-layering the onion that is trauma. Finding the inner strength to even begin phase one is what I found to be one of the hardest. I tried several times to take that ‘lid’ off but was too scared to look at what was lurking inside. I definitely didn’t feel strong or brave enough to for many years. Sometimes we stay and pause at a step longer than the others and sometimes we come back to a particular step several times before we’re able to move forward. Healing isn’t a logical experience - it is a lived and embodied process and unique for each person. Healing cannot be purely cognitive - it really needs to be felt and embodied; putting one foot in front of the other until that sense of safety is integrated.
For me, the healing process has been like a 4D spiral; constantly moving and evolving. That’s not to say that it doesn’t pause when we need it to - pausing and resting is a necessary part of the process which is often one we resist because we feel we’re not doing enough to get to the end goal. That elusive end goal.
Cyclical Steps of healing:
Note: these phases are from my own experience
This past trauma will always be part of my lived experience, my heart and mind but I have done the ongoing work at my own pace which means I have come to a place of knowing internal peace and no longer feel triggered by the memory. It still isn’t okay that it happened and it never will and so what healing means to me is to acknowledge, feel, grieve and release the power it once had over my being. This is work in progress - and that’s okay. I choose me and my own healing every single day so that I get to live a life free of the effects of sexual trauma. It isn’t an easy road but I am proof that it is worth it. My 12 year old self never imagined she would ever tell a single soul what happened to her, but here I am aged 37 telling the world because I feel so passionately that others should not have to do it alone.
The golden threads that are foundational supportive pillars to the process are: