Recently I was talking with two women over lunch. It was nice to have people to talk to. I find it difficult to form relationships when recovering from trauma. It is difficult for others to understand what I’m dealing with every day. My life does not look like most women my age.
During our conversation I had a decision to make. I had known these two women for over two years working together in church ministry. However, they still didn’t know what I deal with every day. One women asked about my family and it was during that moment before answering her question I had to decide whether to open up.
I chose to tell them why I am not connected with my family. I shared what I have been through without going into detail about experiences. It opened up the pathway for one of the ladies to tell me she was raped during college. I know how I feel when I talk about what happened. I get shaky and my whole body feels it.
She was shaking, but she tried to play it off as, “It was horrific, but it happened and well that is that. It was nothing compared to what you’ve been through.” This is where she is wrong. It is a big deal. Yes, some of us have more to work through than others. Some of our paths to healing are much longer, but it does not take away that anything done to you sexually without your consent is sexual assault and there is no comparing experiences.
It doesn’t matter whether it was touching and feeling, complete rape, or done by someone we know or don’t know. It was a violation of our bodies. They had no right to use us. It is traumatic and it alters the course of your life whether we want to realize it or not. We lose innocence, trust, safety, security, and it makes it hard to understand love when you’re used.
Trauma effects the brain, not just our bodies. It is always a part of us. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. You can process trauma so that the horrible feelings that come up when you remember are no longer there. Yes, we will always remember, but there is a difference between a regular memory that it happened and the horrific feelings that go with it.
I shared that processing her rape is possible with this woman. She was quite reluctant to believe what I was telling her stating it is in the past. I wanted to let her know that she could share with others the hope of healing from it if she sought out help. I gave her the number to my therapist. I truly don’t think she is going to use it, but I pray she might.
Processing trauma of any kind can happen with therapists who know how to use methods such as sensorimotor therapy, EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), and havening. I have used all three and am currently using havening to work through my trauma.
No two traumas are going to be alike, but there is hope to work through it with the right way to retrain our brains. If I didn’t know that there was hope of working through my years of sexual abuse and rape I wouldn’t be doing it.
Trauma is trauma. It is not helpful for us to compare what we have been through to anyone else. I had a psychiatrist tell me that when I was sexually assaulted by a chiropractor it wasn’t a big deal because he only touched me and that didn’t compare to being raped growing up. That is wrong. It was still a huge violation of me and was not okay. Thankfully my therapist helped me see it this way.
Yes, we can empathize better and have compassion for what other sexual assault survivors have been through because we know what we have endured. However, comparing can make you think there is nothing to deal with, but there always is. If you have been sexually assaulted you can find healing. I hope you seek it out. I believe what my therapist says in that God wants us to be spiritually and emotionally free. That is my prayer for each of us today.
© 2019 Susan M. Clabaugh. All Rights Reserved.