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 didn’t know that, trusted too easily, and/or believed in the assumed “goodness” in people. The abusers took advantage of their vulnerability.
2. It IS traumatic.
Many survivors are diagnosed with PTSD yet due to the fact that they didn’t experience a “near death” situation in a war/car accident/violent encounter or witnessed someone go through something similar, they’re often shamed or judged and don’t feel worthy of the diagnosis. If people are telling them how stupid they were or what they could’ve done, they end up believing it’s not trauma because they could’ve done something about it and therefore, someone didn’t “take advantage” of them. SO NOT TRUE. See next point.
3. Our abusers use(d) fear to control us.
Verbal and emotional manipulation, threats, empty promises, guilt-tripping, fake “care”, bribery, or just straight up force. Not all those said things necessarily happen to all victims, but its definitely possible to experience all of them. It leaves them feeling like if they don’t do what the abuser wants them to do, they’ll get hurt, be a selfish person, or bring shame on and hurt the people around them they care about (including the abuser). So although what the abuser is doing is scary, they get scared of the consequences that would follow if they don’t comply. They’re trapped in fear, and it becomes picking the option that will do less damage.
4. They’re silenced. Very often.
Not only does the fear trap them into getting hurt either way, but it also affects how they view themselves. The abusers told them lies about themselves and people in our communities don’t understand and shame them. If that’s how others see them, how would they believe something different?
That they don’t deserve to be treated that way, that it wasn’t their fault, that it was wrong.
Or sometimes they do share but they just get pity or people feel bad. So they learn to not talk about it because the people around them don’t take it that well.
5. It takes time to heal.
They weren’t just hurt physically. Sexual abuse includes lies/manipulation/broken trust, all of which affect their mental and emotional healths. They unintentionally believe those lies and it affects them deeply to the soul. Boundaries were crossed in intimate ways. So no, healing doesn’t happen over a few sessions of therapy. They’re changing the mindset that’s trying to protect them from getting severely hurt again. Their brains translate people/places/things similar to the ones involved in their trauma as danger, so only time helps as they learn those small triggers actually aren’t threats.