Do not ever tell a traumatized person “shouldn’t you be over that by now?” or “stop living in the past!” No matter how long ago the trauma happened.
Do not tell it to anyone who was traumatized as an adult. But most of all, do not tell it to someone who was traumatized as a child.
Trauma writes itself across our bodies. The wounds may be covered over as time passes, but the scars remain, and an external trigger can open that wound to the point it is fresh and new, bleeding as if it happened just yesterday.
The trauma of childhood sexual abuse is magnified when surrounding adults deny that it ever happened, making the child believe she must be crazy — if parents or other persons in authority say “you’re lying! It never happened!” they cause the child to mistrust her own senses, and therefore to disbelieve not just the memory of the abuse, but all memories. And thus the trauma continues long after the immediate experience has passed.
Healing occurs when those involved are able to be open about what happened, to acknowledge the wound, its depth, its long-lasting impact, and to be truly sorry for whatever part they played in the trauma, even if it was an unconscious role because they themselves were children at the time.
Healing occurs when those involved recognize and accept responsibility for the way they continued to inflict additional trauma when they rejected the wounded person as an adult, leaving him or her to struggle alone. Because leaving them to struggle alone reiterates the childhood experience: learning that there is no one who will help you, least of all family. A child who believes no one will help her, that she must somehow find a way to survive on her own, no matter how small she is, has great difficulty ever reaching out and asking for help. And then when she finally does, she is so needy that others run from her.
The trauma of childhood sexual abuse never goes away, although one may find various ways to cope with it.
The trauma is written across the…