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Old December 23rd, 2011, 08:08 AM   #1
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Default Understanding and Coping with Sexual Abuse

NOTE: General coping strategies are in the lower end of the post, scroll down till you see "Coping and Surviving" in big bold letters. Oh, and most of the coping mechanisms apply to almost everyone else as well, whether you're just sad, angry or whatever else it may be

This guide will not pertain information about reporting crimes made against you - though asking for help is strongly recommended - because it is something that is very hard to do or if you're like me, something you do not wish to do. Be it because you're ashamed, afraid or do not wish to end up in a foster home (though that most likely will not happen unless the perpetrator was your guardian).

For the sake of this thread I will focus on coping mechanisms and the psychological effects of past sexual abuse, though the following information and tips can still help current sexual abuse sufferers to some extent.

Maybe you've given up the fight and do not believe you deserve/should/can cope with the sexual abuse. If so, you're bullshitting yourself and you deserve much more than what you're getting. If you're reading this right now - you're alive - and for that I commend you. As long as you're alive, it's a mental battle you have all possibilities of winning.

As I find this hard enough to write as it is, some of the things will be quotes from sites and books that I will link to within the thread.

"Was I sexually assaulted or even raped?" This questions seems to pop up every now and then. So before I get into more detail, this is what constitutes as sexual abuse:

Originally Posted by Survivors Resource Network
...the erotic use of a person, whether physically or emotionally, is sexual exploitation in the fullest meaning of the term, even if no bodily contact is ever made."
-Feelings of betrayal
-Feeling dirty
-Feeling unsafe
-Constant suspicion
-Lack of trust
-Inflicting mental/physical torture upon him/herself
-Very emotional
-Feeling miserable


You may feel you're bad, that you're undeserving, unloved and the crime against you deserved to happen.
Click here for self-blame help.

Making excuses for the abuse
This often happens with victims who were/are close with the person who abused them - be it a father, uncle, friend or neighbour. They do so in order to "rationalise" the behaviour and keep the relationship. They may think "It wasn't his/her fault, s/he didn't know what s/he was thinking. S/he didn't mean to hurt me."
The Abuse Excuse by Alan M. Dershowitz

Shrinking it out of proportion
Trying to convince yourself it wasn't so bad. You've gone through worse, others have it much worse etc. etc.

I don't have a link for this so you'll just have to deal with me talking for a bit. The fact is, no one's pain, life or emotions belong to you. It doesn't matter if someone else is living in poverty, lost their iPhone, is adopted or whatever else. Your life is your own and if the hurt is there, it is. Acknowledge it, allow yourself to feel and learn to cope with it and feel better. Comparing lives with anyone isn't going to get you anywhere.

Sexual abuse is horrible and in no way is it anything minor, demeaning it will only make it hit even harder when your dam finally breaks.

Thinking: "Tt didn't happen; I must be making it up; after all how can I be sure anything actually happened; and what if I’m wrong; it probably didn't happen; it couldn’t have happened."
Understanding it.
More understanding.


Eating Disorders
This website saved my life and I hope it'll save yours, too.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
To quote from the website link below: After a traumatic event, it is typical to have feelings of anxiety, stress, or fear, making it difficult to adjust or cope for some time afterwards. In particular, survivors of sexual violence may experience severe feelings of anxiety, stress, or fear, known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). While it is natural to have some of these symptoms after a traumatic event, if they last more than a few weeks and become an ongoing problem, it might be PTSD. If left untreated, the symptoms of PTSD can grow worse and last for months or even years.

Click here for information on treatment options.

NOTE: Survival and Coping can be used for coping with PTSD, especially "Dealing with your Head." Also, challenge your sense of helplessness. The abuse may have left you feeling powerless and vulnerable, helping others is a great way of regaining your sense of power. Volunteer, reach out to a friend or spend hours on gigantic walls of text like this one

Also, write about your feelings and thoughts. When you feel distressed, jolt it down and learn relaxation skills.

Dissociative Identity Disorders
This is a mental illness in which the sufferer has two or more distinct personalities/identities. Sexual abuse victims often dissociate themselves from the abuse.

Click here for more info.

Substance abuse
From drugs to drinking.

Cutting, burning, biting, hitting, any form of intended self-injury counts. Click here for coping information.

Stockholm Syndrome
...emotionally bonding with an abuser as a survival strategy for victims of abuse and intimidation. For example, a victim who was abducted and raped may, years later, describe the captor as a “great person” with whom he/she formed an emotional bond, may be showing characteristics of a victim suffering from Stockholm Syndrome.

There are many, many others such as depression, flashbacks, borderline personality disorders and suicide. To put them all in this thread would take me days to write seeing as I stop at every sentence because this is so difficult for me to write. If you'd like information on anything specific or further help, please leave a comment in this thread or message me.

For people who are no longer being abused, it's time to let it go. The person who was wronged is someone else entirely. We change every day and you've changed. You're not the same and that chapter of your life is over. Some of what you've lost will never be returned and holding on to the pain is like being a closed bud frozen in an eternal winter - it's time to bloom.

-Let music heal. Yay to you if you guessed I would say that Learn an instrument, listen to music, express yourself. Keeping all those emotions, the anger, disappointment, hatred, shame, fear and sadness all locked up is a strain.

-Not everyone wishes to hurt you. Thank Sean for his help because I, too, am struggling with this step.

Originally Posted by Trooneh
Now, I know some of you believe that every person of the same sex as the one who abused you is out to get you. This is NOT the case, however. Remember, a vast majority of people do not want to harm you. You need to be willing to let yourself at least have contact with members of that sex. If you don't, you will only be hindering your own recovery. There are people that would love to get to know the real, beautiful you; you only have to give them the chance. Remember, if you feel at all in danger then you can always get away. If you choose to have a relationship, you need to be open about your nervousness with your significant other. They need to understand why you might not be willing to take the next step. If they truly care about you and your wellbeing, they will understand and will agree to move at your pace. Remember, the famous philosopher John Locke proposed that all humans are inherently good. You need to believe that and try to keep yourself from fearing every member of that sex.

-Art therapy. It's how I say what I wish to say. Take a piece of paper and rip at it. Tear something into pieces, throw it up in the sky and capture the beauty. Focus on the wonder of life, rather than the ugliness.

-Use your voice. Or in my case - fingers. After talking about the abuse so often since I joined VT, things have been a lot better. It's like tens of thousands of rocks have been lifted off me, each one by the wonderful people I've met and those that I've helped. Memories and people are only powerful when you allow them to be.

-Find a haven within. We often put ourselves down and see all the flaws within us and everything we do, this is especially true for sufferers of abuse. There will never be a person, place or thing capable of replacing the love you lack for yourself. Recovery is so much more difficult when you feel you do not deserve it. Life is too long to be spent in self-loathing. Michael Larsen once said:

I live in conflict and contradiction but it can be so beautiful
when I don't reject what lies within
It's beautiful the way agony connects us to the living
I think of the world when I hurt, and keep on existing in the now

-Have a support network. Life is too long to be spent in self-hate and too long to be spent alone. Isolating and denying yourself unity and trust often brings upon misery. I don't know about you but Olafur Arnalds and Nils Frahm definitely sound beautiful together.

Loneliness can be a horrible thing and sexual abuse tends to create an ugly, large, seemingly impossible gap between you and the rest of the world. Often I feel so much older than everyone else around me and laugh and smiling is a chore. But with time, my laughter and smiles have become much more natural - probably because I have such caring, funny friends.

I'm sure you've felt lonely before - I know I always do before, during, after and in between every period of abuse. Maybe you feel as if help will never come but if you keep on searching, it will, eventually. Some things are worth waiting for.

-Dealing with your own head. When the intrusive images or memories flood into your head, close your eyes and imagine this:

Imagine you are standing in a field watching a bright red hot air. The balloon slowly goes up into the air. You watch it go up and up high
into the sky until all you can see is a small red dot far away. You can think of the pictures in your head in the same way. Just let them float through your mind until they are a distant pinpoint. Acknowledge that they are happening but do not try to stop them in any way. Remember that trying not to think of something makes it more likely to come to mind.
-Filled with so much hatred. Sorry, P!nk song. Anyhow, intense, burning anger is something that develops in victims of sexual assault. To cope with this - notice the warning signs, the beginnings of rage. Tense muscles, irrationality, clenching, faster heart rate etc. etc. Then shout, say or think "STOP." Stand still. Turn away. Take deep breaths, reason with yourself. Listen to music and do something else.

-Write, write, write. Journal your ass off. Write down every bit of your mind onto paper, anything you'd like. Turn your live into a creative story. I write so much bullshiz, I could fill a library with it.

-It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. Night time can be a pretty difficult to tackle but try doing the following:
• Be really active during the day and avoid naps, so that when you go to bed you are really sleepy.
• Have a warm bath and a hot milky drink before you go to bed.
• Avoid caffeine.
• If you wake up in the middle of the night, don’t try and go back to sleep until you actually feel sleepy again, otherwise you are likely to toss and turn. YGo into another room and listen to your favourite music(gentle, mellow music, not the latest Slipknot album) or try reading a book or magazine.
• Have a night-light or bedside lamp on so that when you wake up you can see the room.
• Remember that dreams are just dreams. They aren't real no matter how vivid they may seem. Sometimes I can feel my father next to me but he isn't there. Close your eyes and go somewhere else in your mind if you can't move. Gently ease away from it, think of your favourite place or special moment. Ever since I was little(r) I've had a little cabin on a beach in a place of eternal sunset. Feel and listen to your surroundings.

-When people make rape jokes. Now, this is something that happens quite often. It doesn't even have to be a joke, it could be when people say something horribly ignorant. You really just need to realise they usually don't know what they're saying and do not mean to or even realise they're hurting you.

Imagine you have a gigantic stamp with the words "IGNORANT" carved into it. Just mentally stamp them with it and don't give a damn about the silly things they say anymore. They aren't worthy of provoking something in you. Rape jokes are something you will encounter throughout your life. If appropriate, tell them to stop and that they're being immature (In a light manner. Don't ask them to fuck off and run away with tears in your eyes.)

-Coping with suicidal thoughts.
-Stay away from objects you can use to hurt yourself.
-Go some place where you're safe, preferably with more people.
-Talk to someone supportive. -Supportive.-
-Talk to your therapist. For sufferers of sexual abuse, this may be quite hard but it does get easier to talk about after some time. The first time's the worst and then afterwards it's quite okay.
-Think about reasons as to why you don't want to hurt yourself. Write it down.
-Challenge those suicidal thoughts. Ask questions. How do you cope with this? Is it really not possible for these moods to change? Have you ever felt like this before? And if so, how did things get better? How do you overcome this?
-Be mindful. Take a step back from your thoughts and observe what you're feeling.

Coping skills for sexual trauma (Strongly recommend this)
Sexual abuse: Surviving the Pain
Soul Expression Recovery - Survivors Forum
Dealing with sexual abuse.
Young people and sexual abuse
Sexual Abuse/Trauma
Child Abuse

There is no instant recovery; no magical cure that will change what's been done - there is only an easier step, an unforeseen smile and another speck of dirt that doesn't matter anymore.

I am thawing.

"Never test the depth of water with both feet." - Some dude whose name I cannot remember

Last edited by Amaryllis; January 13th, 2012 at 08:51 AM.
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Old December 24th, 2011, 09:34 PM   #2
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Default Re: Understanding and Coping with Abuse

Very well done, must've took a long time to make this. Still good!

My pronouns are they/them/theirs.
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Old January 10th, 2012, 05:56 AM   #3
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Default Re: Understanding and Coping with Sexual Abuse

Amazing post, deserves stickied if you ask me!


"If you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything!"
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Old January 13th, 2012, 08:41 AM   #4
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Default Re: Understanding and Coping with Sexual Abuse

This is a very good thread. We've already discussed everything I had to say about it.
I am glad someone took the time to make this.
Well done Z. You're amazing

Most sincerely,

Last edited by Slytherin_Prince; January 13th, 2012 at 09:22 AM. Reason: Undisclosed.
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Old January 13th, 2012, 10:15 AM   #5
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Default Re: Understanding and Coping with Sexual Abuse

NOTE: I'm tired so I apologise for any bullshit.

Robert, I read everything you said on Skype and your suggestions and constructive criticisms were mostly accurate. I won't include all of what you spoke of in the thread because, to be honest, I don't know how to cope with all of the never ending hate and need for revenge.

Contrary to how I may seem, I'm not immune to everything that's happened in my life. In fact I've done many horrible things I'm terribly ashamed of - some of which could put me in juvenile detention.

I don't have the answers to everything and to be completely, utterly, absolutely honest - I don't think there's a "recovery" in abuse. But of course, you can learn to cope and the pain might fade in time. You can choose to not let it hold you back from what you want to do with your life and thrive.

I'll just quote some of what Robert has said here:

Originally Posted by Slytherin_Prince
The most obvious one: Revenge. Hatred and especially the lust for vengeance can be great motivators. Greater than many a person could -possibly- imagine. It's easy for someone to say that it's never justified, but I could go in excruciating detail to convince even the most dedicated pacifist that vengeance, in some cases, is -very- understandable. Not justifiable, but understandable.

When one has suffered a trauma like that, one can struggle to maintain control. In order to maintain control, one must subdue their emotions. When that happens, ironically, feelings of extreme hatred and an intense lust for vengeance can appear, never to go away again. It can also be a way to conclude the past, by thinking that by taking revenge, you'll finally get some closure.

And then, in extreme cases, it is all someone can have. In that case, it can be a great motivator, to the point where some people wouldn't be alive now without it.

Problem is, even after the original issue is settled, those feelings of intense hatred and a burning desire to take revenge will -never- go away, and it will change you forever.

And no matter what someone will ever say, they will -never- go away. If you combine this with the paranoia that a traumatic event such as this could bring forth, you'll get a very, very nasty character.

But, as I said, probably an understandably nasty character. A detail most people overlook.

Another. Seclusion, self wallowing, being so in combat with your own mind that you'll be unable to do anything else, and so forth.

Also, another thing. An added effect (as to the earlier thing) that can be caused by sexual abuse is the literal -fear- to be touched. By anything.

Even a shoulderpat can trigger memories that can ravage a person's mind beyond comprehension.

Sexual abuse therefore can trigger symptons to various mental illnesses, from OCD to Autism.

Especially after having been through something like this, the obsessive need to maintain control can appear. It can even turn into an actual form of OCD, such as needing to have a routine every single time you do something, so that complete control is asserted.
I wish I could disagree. I really, really do. I feel like a bitch for even putting this here - like I'm squashing all the hopes of every person who's suffered through abuse. But sometimes the truth, no matter how hard or cold, needs to be out there. Because by "censoring" it, it'll just become even more of a taboo.

I'm sure many of the sexual abuse survivors (especially if it's long-term) will be able to relate to: I want to fucking pull his nails out one by one, cut off his ear, skin him alive, feed his toes to wolves, make him eat his grilled feet, pour gasoline over his head and set it on fire, extinguish the fire before he dies, kill everything he loves before his eyes, chop him up with and axe and drown him.

Or her, whichever. You get the point.


I won't. Because I have many, many decades ahead of me that do not include my father and I do not wish to spend the rest of my life in jail - there are so many more productive things I can do with it. I'm going to boarding school in a year, just one more year and I never have to see his disgusting face ever again.

Revenge, however pleasant or desperate it may seem, isn't worth it. It really isn't going to solve anything, in fact, it'll probably succeed in making it worse.

Excessive hate is not going to make it all go away, screaming and hitting your head against walls, shoving your grandmother because she refuses to leave you alone and telling your mother to go fuck herself and having her hit you over the head with a lamp - is not going to erase the misery.

Talking about it occasionally helps. Occasionally it just succeeds in making it worse - like you end up cutting yourself excessively, everyday, for 2 months and you bug your friend non-stop with words of self-pity(sachaliluvyou<3) But, occasionally, letting out all the frustration helps. I like shredding paper and slashing art blocks with razor blades.

Spend most of your time being happy. I know, that sounds so absurd and impossible and yeah, it -is- pretty hard at first, but when you constantly focus on other things for, well, months to years, it gets easier. You'll get the occasionally heaviness that just never seems to go away and the bitterness at having to grow up much too fast (that's a horrible downfall for me) but if you just try to laugh and smile (I force myself to laugh and smile) you'll be okay-er than if you were to cry in a corner 7 hours a day.

Find a balance. Do not do not do not do not vent to the same friend every single day or even once every two days. As much as they love you, they will, unfortunately, get sick and tired of you, sooner or later. Not to mention you'll end up focusing on all the shit in your life, nothing else will matter.

There are some things you cannot change - like the fact that you were raped/molested. But there are some things you can. Life may not be perfect but you can strive to make it as good as possible - that means dropping the my-life-is-ruined-forever-there's-nothing-I-can-do mentality. Perhaps some mental illnesses and physical disabilities will never disappear but you can choose to see what you -do- have.

I don't believe in a "one true personality." I do not feel someone has to be, say: serious, self-critical, cautious, independent and well-organised. And that's it. Why can't they be independent -and- dependent? Why can't they change over time? I just don't think we have "given" personalities or that, even if we did, we had to stick to it. I wasn't born resilient, in fact, I spent much of my childhood wallowing in self-pity. When I was young(er) I felt as if I'd lost myself - I had conflicting personalities and everything felt like an act.

As I grew older, I basically moulded myself into whatever I felt I should, could and wanted to be. I'm pretty much quite biphasic now, I'm self-critical and self-confident, pessimistic and optimistic, loving and angry and just all sorts of stuff. Adaptability. That's how you survive.

So be whatever the hell you want to be. Don't tell yourself you -are- this or you -are- that. You don't have to be "the abuse victim", that's like eating a sandwich and calling yourself "the sandwich eater".

My point is, external forces do not -make- a person, how it effects you has to do with how you deal with it. A scrawny kid may find a 20 pound block hard to lift but a professional weight lifter may find it easy. There is no stress, there is only strain. You are in control of what you're going to do and think here on out. Even the exact same mental illnesses can be coped with differently by different people.

Every dark cloud has a fucking silver lining.

"Never test the depth of water with both feet." - Some dude whose name I cannot remember

Last edited by Amaryllis; January 13th, 2012 at 10:38 AM.
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Old January 13th, 2012, 12:19 PM   #6
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Default Re: Understanding and Coping with Sexual Abuse

Oh Z this has helped so much <3

What a brilliant post, well done. I hope this helps many people who have been what we have both been through

Don't let anybody ever bring you down.

Last edited by Love.Hate; January 13th, 2012 at 12:28 PM.
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Old January 14th, 2012, 09:36 AM   #7
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Default Re: Understanding and Coping with Sexual Abuse

That was...surprisingly overt. No matter, an excellent post nonetheless
Though I may sound a bit evil in that quote, I assure everyone, I said a lot more. Not all was that bad

Last edited by Slytherin_Prince; January 18th, 2012 at 09:40 AM.
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Old March 5th, 2012, 07:37 PM   #8
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Default Re: Understanding and Coping with Sexual Abuse

I am starting an awareness group called the broken rose project. please check it out it is to speak out and fight against sexual abuse

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Old June 28th, 2012, 11:02 PM   #9
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Default Re: Understanding and Coping with Sexual Abuse

This is a very good thread. We've already discussed everything I had to say about it.
I am glad someone took the time to make this.
Well done Z. You're amazing
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Old August 12th, 2012, 10:27 PM   #10
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Default Re: Understanding and Coping with Sexual Abuse

All of the post were very interesting and I learned a lot. Good job guys.

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Old August 13th, 2016, 11:33 AM   #11
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Default Re: Understanding and Coping with Sexual Abuse

Excellent post! You have done such a great job putting together material on abuse. Hopefully this will help a lot of people on here.

I am gay and happy with that.
I love talking to people very open & willing to listen.
I am also glad to try help with questions or problems.
Hit me up for anything. I promise I don't bite.
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Old October 20th, 2016, 06:03 PM   #12
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This is so good. It was so nice of you to spend time making this.
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