1. It’s not the victim’s fault. Ever.
It doesn’t matter if it seemed like they wanted it. They needed love, care, worth, acceptance—things that all humans need. They just weren’t aware of that and trusted, believing in the “goodness” in people, and their abusers took advantage of that.
2. It IS traumatic.
Many survivors experience all the PTSD symptoms yet don’t get diagnosed due to the fact that they didn’t experience a “near death” situation. Instead, they’re often shamed or judged as people tell them how stupid they were or what they could’ve done to prevent it. That in itself is further traumatizing, and they end up believing it was their fault and didn’t experience trauma.
3. Abusers use fear to control.
Verbal and emotional manipulation. Threats. Empty promises. Guilt-tripping. Fake “care”. Bribery. Physical force.
Not everything happens to all victims, but all of them leave victims feeling like if they don’t do what the abuser wants them to do, there will be negative consequences.
So although what the abuser is doing is scary, victims are often left to do whatever it takes to survive, even if that means getting hurt.
4. Victims are silenced. Very often.
Abusers tell victims lies about themselves. People don’t understand and shame them. If that’s how they’re received by others, how could they share what really happened? How can they see that they’re not at fault?
And although the #metoo movement is getting louder and more people are sharing, its still a sensitive topic people treat them awkwardly, driving them back into their shells.
It’s hard to voice in a society that doesn’t know how to listen and respond.
5. It takes time to heal.
They weren’t just hurt physically. Sexual abuse affects the emotions, mind, and soul. Intimate boundaries were crossed, often over longer periods of time. So no, healing doesn’t happen over a few sessions of therapy.
Victims have to work to change their minds that are trying to protect them from getting severely hurt again. Trauma wired their brains to translate people/places/things similar to their trauma as danger.
Only time, lots of patience, and self-compassion can help them as they re-learn how to go about their normal lives and leave their traumas in the past.