How to Heal From Sexual Trauma — Talkspace



Printed on: 28 Sep 2023

How to Heal from Sexual Trauma

Set off warning: This text discusses sexual trauma, which can be disturbing or distressing to some individuals. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 1 in 3 girls have skilled bodily or sexual violence of their life. Sexual trauma may be devastating to your psychological well-being and depart destructive lasting results. It will probably destroy your religion in others and make belief excruciatingly troublesome. Therapeutic from the trauma of sexual violence is a profoundly private expertise. Restoration takes time, endurance, and entry to the appropriate sources — it’s an emotionally taxing journey.

Sexual trauma refers to any undesirable sexual exercise or conduct. It will probably consequence from rape, molestation, sexual harassment, or assault. How this sort of trauma impacts us can differ from individual to individual and depends upon components like:

  • Private notion
  • Severity of the occasion(s)
  • Help programs
  • Earlier trauma
  • Entry to skilled assist

It’s frequent for somebody who’s skilled a sex-related trauma to have excessive emotions of concern, disgrace, guilt, anger, and disappointment. It’s even frequent to really feel numb. Sexual assault survivors  have signs just like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and may have nightmares, flashbacks, and crippling anxiety or melancholy because of their expertise. 

Although it may be troublesome, it is doable to heal sexual trauma. Be taught what you’ll want to learn about this difficult journey right here.

Steps for Therapeutic from Sexual Trauma

Understanding how to deal with being raped, sexually harassed, and another sexual trauma is important to have the ability to transfer ahead. There are steps you may take to navigate the method of therapeutic sexual trauma. The next are important so that you can contemplate should you need assistance studying tips on how to recover from sexual trauma.

Step 1: Search skilled assist

Working with knowledgeable who has expertise in trauma-related remedy may be an extremely helpful a part of your therapeutic course of. They will give you the steering and assist you want and supply confirmed evidence-based remedies which might be tailor-made to your expertise and desires. 

“Due to the trauma skilled throughout sexual violence and the aftermath there are a number of varieties of remedy that may be performed however the course of is prolonged, varieties of remedy are however not restricted to: cognitive behavioral remedy (CBT), dialectical behavioral remedy (DBT), artwork remedy, intercourse remedy, trauma processing, substance use counseling (if essential), and animal assisted remedy.”

Talkspace therapist Reshawna Chapple, PhD, LCSW

Some efficient types of remedy observe.

Cognitive behavioral remedy (CBT)

CBT is a sort of speak remedy that helps you establish and alter destructive, unhelpful, and unhealthy thought and conduct patterns as you’re therapeutic from sexual trauma.

Eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)

Research has discovered that EMDR therapy may be a particularly efficient therapeutic modality for survivors of sexual assault who’re experiencing major depressive disorder (MDD) or having suicidal ideation because of their trauma.

Cognitive processing remedy (CPT)

Cognitive processing therapy (CPT) was developed to deal with individuals with post-traumatic stress dysfunction. In some analysis, it has been proven efficient in serving to sexual trauma survivors enhance. CPT helps you perceive and alter beliefs you’ve which might be associated to your trauma.

Somatic remedy

Somatic therapy focuses on the mind-body connection. It will probably enable you launch rigidity and let go of the trauma that’s been saved in your physique. In studies, somatic remedy provided important enchancment in girls recovering from childhood sexual abuse. 

Group remedy

Alongside particular person remedy, group therapy for survivors of sexual assault can supply extra assist when studying tips on how to heal from sexual trauma. Whereas this may be an efficient remedy and type of remedy for some individuals although, more research is needed to completely perceive its efficacy.

Step 2: Construct a assist system

Therapeutic sexual trauma requires a powerful assist system. Whereas the trauma might depart you feeling like you may’t belief anybody or need to be alone, assist goes to be essential as you navigate the therapeutic course of. Encompass your self with individuals who perceive what you went by way of and may give you compassionate, reassuring assist. 

You may attain out to pals, members of the family, or assist teams which might be designated for survivors of sex-related trauma. 

Inside your assist system, it’s essential for you to have the ability to:

  • Discuss overtly about your expertise
  • Create and belief a secure area
  • Turn out to be an advocate for others should you really feel robust sufficient

Step 3: Foster self care

Prioritizing self care is all the time an essential objective, but it surely turns into much more essential when therapeutic from trauma like this. Take time for your self, do actions you take pleasure in, and keep a wholesome way of life. 

Self care practices can embody:

“Self care may be divided into two classes: bodily and emotional below the bodily class actions of every day dwelling are essential consuming, sleeping, exercising or getting some type of bodily exercise, And avoiding changing into overwhelmed by setting a routine. within the emotional class issues like having enjoyable, creating leisurely actions, journaling, listening to music, coloring or growing a pastime, socializing.”

Talkspace therapist Reshawna Chapple, PhD, LCSW

Step 4: Set boundaries

As a sexual trauma survivor, it’s additionally essential to set and implement boundaries throughout this time. You must be taught how to set boundaries in relationships, for when and the way you talk with others, and to your private area. Setting boundaries will enable you really feel in management and secure so you may slowly start to belief your environment once more. 

You’ll be able to create boundaries by:

  • Making time so that you can have private area
  • Asking individuals to name or textual content you earlier than they arrive over
  • Being keen to inform somebody you’re not up for speaking
  • Expressing the significance of confidence if you divulge heart’s contents to others
  • Having the braveness to request help when duties show difficult, fairly than persisting in battle alone.

Coping Methods for Sexual Trauma

A part of studying tips on how to recover from sexual trauma means discovering coping methods. Coping instruments may be extremely highly effective as you regain management over your feelings and ideas. They will help you navigate your days and your relationships. 

It’s regular to be triggered or have flashbacks to your trauma — the next coping skills and methods may be useful. 

Discuss to somebody you belief

Discover your “particular person” — that somebody you may share your innermost emotions and be susceptible with. This generally is a member of the family, a peer, one other trauma survivor, or perhaps a therapist. Having somebody you belief, and having the ability to divulge heart’s contents to them, might be an emotional reduction and outlet through the particularly troublesome instances you may face within the coming days, weeks, and months.

Reconnect along with your physique by way of meditation, dance, or yoga

Mindfulness practices like meditation and yoga will help you reconnect along with your physique. These are efficient instruments that promote rest. While you have interaction in these actions, you be taught to deal with the current, which might scale back the stress and nervousness ranges related along with your trauma.

Course of your emotions of disgrace and guilt

It’s anticipated that you simply’ll have emotions of disgrace and guilt, though what you went by way of is under no circumstances your fault. You aren’t in charge for what occurred to you. 

A part of processing your emotions is recognizing if you’re experiencing unhelpful feelings like disgrace or guilt. Whereas a lot of these emotions are regular, you could be taught to course of them so you may let go and heal. Be taught extra about guilt vs. shame and tips on how to take care of these emotions. 

Search counseling

Getting skilled psychological well being care may be instrumental in your journey towards therapeutic. A therapist can supply steering and assist whereas serving to you be taught coping methods to your wants.

“Flip off the information or social media, have a security plan, lean in your social helps, be affected person and sleek with your self, use grounding methods, follow mindfulness, meditation and yoga, and keep away from medicine and alcohol as a result of they solely numb the ache however don’t assist to heal.”

Talkspace therapist Reshawna Chapple, PhD, LCSW

Shifting Ahead

To maneuver ahead, at the start, be variety to your self. Work towards constructing resilience so you can also make progress and reduce the lasting results of sexual assault. You’ll be able to transfer ahead by:

  • Embracing self-compassion: Deal with your self with kindness and understanding. Be empathetic if you’re struggling. Acknowledge your ache with out judgment, and keep in mind you aren’t in charge.
  • Establishing a assist community: Encompass your self with individuals who love and care about you. You’ll seemingly must depend on them for emotional assist.
  • Cultivating optimistic feelings: Do issues that carry you a way and feeling of pleasure and happiness. Spend time with family members or begin (or decide again up) hobbies that fulfill you.
  • Maintaining a wholesome perspective: Do not forget that therapeutic just isn’t linear. You’re going to have ups and downs alongside the best way. Be affected person and hold perspective so you may acknowledge progress, however perceive this may take time.
  • Set life like objectives: You gained’t go from experiencing trauma to being absolutely healed in a single day. Set small, attainable objectives alongside the best way. For instance, a objective may be sleeping by way of the night time, consuming 3 wholesome meals sooner or later, or sitting alone in a public place. Small steps will add as much as important development.

Embark on a Path to Therapeutic with Talkspace

Talkspace is an online therapy platform that provides skilled assist and sources for survivors of sexual trauma and their family members. You’ll be able to join with an skilled and certified therapist who makes a speciality of therapeutic sexual trauma so you can begin in your path towards therapeutic. 

Be taught extra about how one can get one-on-one classes with a licensed Talkspace therapist. Your highway to restoration might be lengthy and certain full of some challenges, however having the correct assist {and professional} steering could make all of the distinction.


  1. Violence in opposition to girls. World Well being Group. Printed March 9, 2021. Accessed April 21, 2023. 
  2. Rostaminejad A, Alishapour M, Jahanfar A, Fereidouni Z, Behnammoghadam M. Eye motion desensitization and reprocessing as a remedy for rape victims: A case collection. Medical Case Studies. 2022;10(3). doi:10.1002/ccr3.5620. Accessed April 21, 2023.
  3. Worth C. BODY-ORIENTED THERAPY IN RECOVERY FROM CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE: AN EFFICACY STUDY. Altern Ther Well being Med. 2007;11(5):46-57. Accessed April 21, 2023. 
  4. Heard E, Walsh D. Group remedy for survivors of grownup sexual assault: A scoping evaluation. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse. 2021;24(2):886-898. doi:10.1177/15248380211043828. April 21, 2023.

Talkspace articles are written by skilled mental health-wellness contributors; they’re grounded in scientific analysis and evidence-based practices. Articles are extensively reviewed by our workforce of scientific consultants (therapists and psychiatrists of varied specialties) to make sure content material is correct and on par with present trade requirements.

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