If you are reading this, you are getting a private peak into my journey of relearning how to be a woman. After being sexually/mentally/and emotionally abused by my partner in high school, I went through several more traumatizing sexual encounters in my late teenage years. Now having been several years out of those experiences, I find myself on the incredibly transformative road to recovery.
When I first learned that I had been apart of a sexually violent relationship and subsequent sexually violent experiences, I immediately turned to the internet. What is this? What does this mean? How do I get better? I did not really know what to do, what to research, or how to heal. I went through several therapists, several of the same blogs over and over again and COULD NOT find any helpful tools and/or information on how to recover. For the first couple of years after my experience, I spent most of my time in therapy sitting across from professionals looking at me with pity in their eyes and allowing me to relive every painful moment of my trauma. I left all of my sessions exhausted, feeling sorry for myself, and either hyper or hypo aroused.
- **DEFINITION TIME**: For those that do not know what hypo and hyper arousal mean, here is the definition. You may want to skip over this part if you already know this information-
- Hypo-arousal refers to an arousal state that lies of the low end of this continuum. Behaviorally, hypo-arousal may be observed as under-responsiveness to stimuli and one’s environment, for example, as lethargy, inattention, apathy, or boredom. Source
- hyperarousal [hi″per-ah-row´zal] a state of increased psychological and physiological tension marked by such effects as reduced pain tolerance, anxiety, exaggerated startle responses, insomnia, fatigue, and accentuation of personality traits. Source
- Basically, I was either in a depressive state, lethargic, exhausted, unmotivated, or I was anxious, paranoid, and high energy. Neither state was healthy for me because I was never leaving feeling level headed and balanced. I was bouncing between manic and depressive.
Their came a point in time when I said to myself, “Shouldn’t I leave therapy feeling better not worse?” And then I realized that maybe these professionals did not know how to properly treat a trauma victim. I thought to myself that maybe I should seek help that is made specifically for survivors of sexual trauma.
I then found a women’s center that did exactly that. I currently still attend this center and participate in group and individual therapy. It has been a life altering experience. I now leave feeling rejuvenated, happy, and with new purpose. Having Trauma specific therapy has truly made all the difference in the world.
I still, however, have a long way to go and a lot to learn. The Title “ReLearning Woman” comes from the fact that I still do not understand what “being a woman” means to me yet. My fundamental developmental years in discovering my body, my sexuality, my gender, and my identity in womanhood were spent intertwined with sexual, emotional, and physical abuse. I know I feel connected to the term “Woman” but I want it to be bigger than the suffering I underwent. I am hoping that as I continue to grow into my own skin, into my emotions, and into new perspectives, I will develop a more positive take on what “being a Woman” really means.
I offer this information on a public forum because, as you may be finding, there are limited resources for those recovering from sexual trauma. I hope this can create visibility and relate-ability to those of you on this journey too.