happens in our own way in our own time. These steps are not
necessarily followed one after the other, nor do they have any
specific time frame. Some of them can be repeated many times
before our healing is done. Some of them may not be necessary at
all. Each of our healing journeys unfold in their own way unique
to who we are.
Develop a safety plan to
get you safely through the rough times in your healing journey.
Create a safe, stable, nurturing personal base for your wounded
Explore the abuse, allow your pain to surface, search for the
sources, and uncover the wounds.
Accept and honor who you are. Reclaim your hurt inner self and
honor all of her efforts to survive.
Realize that you were not to blame for the actions of your
abusers, nor were you to blame if you were unable to stop the
Make a commitment to healing the wounds.
Mobilize your supports. Find safe people to be witnesses and
allies in your healing process; people who inspire, encourage and
validate you. Ask for support and nurturance from safe friends,
family, peers, therapists, social workers, self help groups, or
support groups led by a therapist or social worker.
Search for trusting relationships.
Identify personal triggers and defensive
Remember the abuse. Little
by little reconnect with and reclaim the experience, the thoughts,
emotions, spiritual and physical experience of the abuse. If your
abuse was extensive, you might want to take lots of soothing,
restful, rejuvinating breaks between memories.
Grieve your losses. Allow the fear, rage and sense of loss to
surface. Recognize the full extent of the abuse and feel the
impact it has had on your life.
Tell your story, externalize and share both your triumphs and
your pain. Remember your strengths.
Learn to trust yourself and others. Learn how to differentiate
between who you can and cannot trust.
Become aware of how your past influences your present. Identify
what blocks are in the way of accomplishing your goals.
Identify new coping skills, and discard old coping methods that
may have helped you get through the past, but no longer work in
Recognize who you are, what your strengths and weaknesses are,
what you like and don't like about yourself, what you want to keep
and what you want to change. Evaluate your belief system.
Challenge any faulty beliefs and perceptions that get in the way
of your healing. Develop positive, healthy attitudes and
expectations about yourself and the people you care about. Make
the necessary changes in your behavior and relationships.
Allow your anger and rage to surface. Recognize that this was a
natural response to the abuse. Learn how not to turn it against
yourself or others. Find healthy outlets for any remnants of
Confront your offenders either indirectly through journal
writing, fantasy work, visualizing, or role playing; or directly
in letters or in person (but not without lots of preparation and
support). Learn methods of expressing and asserting your needs,
standing up for yourself, direct confrontation techniques and
self defense (verbal or physical) for protecting yourself against further harm.
Reclaim every part of who
you are with compassion and love.
Reclaim your own personal power. Accept that as an adult you
can thrive. You can be how you want to be, and you have the right
to live your life as you choose. Realize that you have the inner
power to effect change. Learn how not to abuse your power.
Reclaim the strong, healthy parts of yourself and let go of
maladaptive behavior patterns and hurtful relationships.
Reclaim your emotions by accepting them and listening to what
they are telling you. Find healthy ways to express them, then let
Explore different ways to let go of the pain. Mentally give
your shame and guilt back to your abusers where it belongs.
Develop an understanding of the abuse that releases you from the
Reclaim your body. Embrace physical self care, nutrition,
Reclaim your self confidence and your sense of self worth. Take
time to focus on your accomplishments and all the things you like
Reclaim your sexual self. Recognize your worth as a sexual
being. Recognize your right to be involved in pleasurable,
non-abusive relationships. Pursue nurturing relationships.
Seek strong, positive connections to people you care about. Get
involved in community activities. Make time to be with friends.
Join a political cause. Give back to the people who have been
there for you. Help others overcome their abuse.
Find spiritual healing. Reclaim your spiritual self. Seek
spiritual guides. Strengthen your spiritual connections.
Realize peace within. In all aspects of love, parenting, work
and play, enjoy a happy, healthy, fulfilling, productive