Her Recovery

There are many stages to a survivor's recovery. In the critical stage of her healing she may experience depression, suicidal feelings, flashbacks or violent reimagining of the event, and have a heightened fear or paranoia. She may struggle with going to sleep or taking basic care of her needs. She may have triggers, or things that 'set off' her reimagining and experiencing of the trauma, which may force her to have limited contact with the worlds around her.

 

It's easy for a survivor to withdraw completely in the immediate post-trauma stage of her healing as she journeys through isolation, processing her emotions and anger about what happened to her. Rape can make most survivors feel 'dirty' and 'different,' which makes interacting with their friends and family awkward. Survivors don't feel they have the same strength they usually do to simply go back to 'normal' life. Some symptoms include a tendency toward self-harm, eating disorders, becoming promiscuous to 'flush out the memory', intense body-hatred, and dissociation or leaving her body. 

Trauma informed therapy and support groups are essential for a survivor who is ready to process the deeper emotions about what happened to her and let them go. Friends and family should take the consideration to nurture her and love her no matter what she's feeling and be mindful to reaffirm her safety, her worth, and how much they believe her story. Dissociation during trauma and after trauma gives survivors a feeling like they 'weren't really there' when they were abused which is what adds to the confusion and takes away their confidence in knowing with certainty what happened. 

In the later processing stage of healing after a survivor has had time to grieve the violence, she may begin to accept the reality of what was done and find the strength and resilience she needs to rediscover her joys, passions, and interests. Forgiving herself and forgiving her abuser are major milestones in her healing journey and happen at their own pace. 

 

One of the last stages of healing is a disclosing stage where a survivor becomes comfortable enough with herself after what happened that she's able to share her story. This is another important milestone in her healing that marks her 'moving on' point, punctuating the grief she's been going through points to her being able to assimilate her experience, as if she's digested it fully in her emotional, mental, and spiritual capacities. She accept that what was done to her really happened, she believes her story is real, she feels believed, and she's able to move on from that traumatic event 'defining' her life. 

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