Sexual abuse is a breach of trust on different levels. Automatically your ability to trust others drops below zero, and you may even develop distrusting your sense of judgment. Trust is a critical ingredient in any relationship; it’s the cornerstone.
When we’ve been betrayed, this cornerstone is removed. We must choose to heal by choosing to face our pain. When we face our pain and go through the process of our emotions, then our trust mechanisms can have a resolution.
When sexual abuse takes place, different levels of violation occur, those being physical, mental, and spiritual violations. Sexual abuse is a breach of boundaries and removes your right over your body. It leaves you powerless, and without you knowing it’s unconsciously conditioned you to give in to sexual acts from there on out even when you feel like you don’t want to.
When your body is violated the shame of the abuser is transferred onto you, and you develop body shame. Your emotions are a bundled mess. Your moods are inconsistent, and the feelings that may continuously be present are fear, shame, humiliation, guilt, and self-blame. These self-defeating emotions inevitable to lead to anxiety and depression, and in many instances, chronic depression.
According to literature and research, sexual violence affects different regions in the brain involving self-awareness and perception. Because sexual abuse is overwhelming on the mind that it can alter the patterns of signaling perceptions and sensations. This means that there are changes in your body’s ability to create sensations and perceptions. For instance, if you experience thinning in the cortex of your brain, then you would expect a lowered pain threshold, making you susceptible to pain.
Despite the research, there is hope in our faith and hope that with the right support, and emotional nourishment one can influence positive mental changes. A step towards a healthy mental state is understanding what takes place emotionally and mentally following abuse. Knowing what happens will help you target the areas that within you that need attention and healing.
What are silencers? Silencers are people you decide to share your sexual abuse story with but who are dismissive and try to brush the incident under the rug. On your healing journey, you must take ownership of your pain and your truth. Face your struggles with the support of people that will listen and be there to encourage you. Because your support system is an essential aspect of your healing journey you must choose well the people you want as conversational partners.
The conversations you have throughout your healing process can either help you or deter you from real healing. Your conversational partners must not rush you in any way. If you ever feel pressured to heal, then you know those partners are not right for you
Rebuild Your Trust Factor
To rebuild your ability to trust, you must choose to walk the path of wellness and forgiveness. Because many layers of trust have been breached as a result of sexual abuse, you must begin to set up healthy boundaries for yourself. Boundaries that will not only keep you safe physically but also will help you feel emotionally secure.
Proverbs 4:23, “Above all else, guard your heart for everything you do flows from it.”
Scriptures tell us to above everything we do. We must guard our hearts, and boundaries are necessary to guard it. How do you set boundaries? By identifying the red flags underneath your feelings. Monitor your feelings because boundaries have more to do with emotions than with just telling someone not to get close to you. Boundaries are an emotional matter, so if you ask yourself the following questions, and these are automatic signals that reveal a need for you to set boundaries.
Do I continue to stay around people that make me feel uncomfortable?
Do I feel bad about saying no?
Did I say yes to that person to something that went against my feelings?
Did I feel discomfort or pain?
Did I agree out of fear for rejection and abandonment?
Did I feel like I had to say yes to avoid disappointing someone?
These questions are red flags that should encourage you to set boundaries between you and others. Healthy boundaries are vital for you to feel safe. Setting boundaries gives you back the voice that sexual abuse stripped away from you. It’s okay to say no whenever you feel uncomfortable. It’s okay to stop hanging around people that do things that bring you discomfort. You don’t have to please others or do things our of fear that someone will leave you. Set boundaries to restore your ability to trust in your strength.
How do I rebuild a sense of trust in others? Start with God. Start in the intimacy of a relationship with God. God is reliable and loyal, and when you anchor your trust in him, then you are actively engaging in the trust-rebuilding activity. Survivors won’t instantly trust everyone again, but with time and through trusting in God’s words of promise, forgiveness will be attained. That’s when trust can be rebuilt. Before you can trust others, you must trust your instincts and your own decisions.