Teens Dealing With Sexual Abuse Part 1
September 28, 2010
I received an email from a young woman who had read Secrets Girls Keep. She wrote me because she had been a victim of sexual abuse. Secrets Girls Keep covers lots of issues girls deal with from friends, to boyfriends, to school, and even sexual abuse. This young woman wanted to continue the discusssion about sexual abuse and how teen girls can heal from this. The book has a short section on this topic and she felt parts of it could have been worded differently or explained further. She offered to help share her perspective with other girls. In this blog series, you can hear what she has to say.
You’re Not Alone
“I think it’s important to just get the word out because just going through sexual abuse made me feel like I had never been more alone in the world. Girls need to know that they are most certainly not alone, we need support of others and they’re waiting with open arms to support you. You aren’t going be a bother or hurt anyone’s feelings by talking to them. People want to be a part of your life, no matter who you are. People really do care. Get help, even if the thought of it terrifies you. It won’t make it worse if you seek help, only make it better and safer for you. Everyone who’s going through abuse of any kind needs someone to step in for them, and lend them a hand when they most need it.
I told my teacher, but you can reach out to anyone, a trusted adult, a good and trusting friend, another family member, a parent, etc. We all need help and don’t be afraid to seek it. Share your feelings and let yourself feel them. Everything you are feeling if you’ve been sexually abused or even just abused, is not abnormal. We all feel the same frustration, loneliness, guilt, sadness, depression, anger, and a good deal of other things. I know that you probably want to shove these feelings away, but it’s important to feel these feelings. You’ve probably pushed these things down and away for so long, but everyone has a right and a need to feel them.
Reactions to Abuse
It’s also completely normal, not good but normal, to develop an eating disorder for a source of control. Many girls develop a variety of eating disorders when or after being sexually abused. It is normally because of a need to control something in their life because the abuse is something a victim has absolutely no control over whatsoever. Be sure to tell someone about it if you have developed one, and just work through it. It will be ok. There’s no need to be ashamed of it, I’m working through mine as well, and it is getting better. No one who matters will judge you because of it, and you don’t have to tell everyone. Just someone you trust and someone who can help you or help you to find someone who can. Also, the abuse was not your fault at all!!! It’s something hard to realize that you had no power, but it really is true, no matter what you want to tell yourself. Put yourself in someone else’s position and look back on the abuse. You’ll realize that there was absolutely nothing you could’ve done. I’m truly sorry. No matter what the abuser said like, “You wanted it.” or “You asked for it.” You didn’t and it was in no way your fault.
Lastly, it’s entirely normal to develop an anxiety disorder, have panic attacks, flashbacks, and / or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). You’ve suffered something traumatic, and you’re mind has been in “survival mode” and you’ve done what you had to because you made it through. Because your brain and body has been in “survival mode” it’s trying to kind of realize that it can just kind of relax and be safe. I know that this might be painful, but to start to let go and not be constantly remember he abuse you really do need to think about it. What’s basically happening is that your brain has blocked out the memories for so long because your mind is thinking if you block it out it won’t be real, but it is and it’s ok to know that it is real. So, you’re heart knows what happened, but your brain wants to know too, and so, this might sound strange but, your heart and your brain are kind of fighting to know what happened and that’s why it’s constantly on your mind or popping into your mind. It’s ok to tell your brain what happened and let yourself think about. It will let your brain start to relax, and let go of thinking about it constantly.
For more ideas on how to deal with sexual abuse, look at part 2 of this series which includes books and other resources that helped her deal with sexual abuse.