You wake up one morning and when you look at your reflection in the mirror, you’re reminded of someone who used to enjoy the smell of their first cup of coffee and the fresh air from their morning run. Now all you see is a person that feels shame, disgust, and anger. You walk down the stairs and stop to stare at the pair of runners that used to bring you joy and a sense of freedom. Now it brings you back to the day you were sexually assaulted while running on a trail where you once felt safe and invincible. You remember the feelings of losing yourself in your music and watching nature and life pass you by with every step you take. You ask yourself: is this the day I attempt to get those feeling back? Will I be able to tie those laces and walk out the door without feeling the fear? Without much thought you turn around, walk back up the stairs and crawl into your bed.
You wish you could just move on and stop yourself from going down this path, but the feelings of shame come rushing through your mind before you even have a moment to take a deep breath. You realize that this is going to be another day of remembering. Remembering the feelings of having to report what happened to you and the events that took place; the moment you were questioned in that room that looked like an operation room with a police officer that showed zero emotion; and the questions that you will never forget, that made you feel guilt and blame for not doing more. All you could think about was how you wanted to be in your home, in the bed and under the same comforter.
If this story sounds familiar, you aren’t alone.
The power that shame has and the impact it can make on the way you heal from assault can become so overwhelming that it cripples your thought process. Shame has a way of sneaking into your thoughts. It can create fear and makes it easy to blame yourself for something that was out of your control and not your fault. You start to question every step you took that day and ask yourself if there was a way you could have prevented what happened to you. You start to wonder if maybe you didn’t wear the crop top or the new black leggings you bought. Or if maybe you had changed the route you took that day and weren’t listening to your new playlist, you would have been more aware of your surroundings. Shame can create feeling of guilt and thoughts of wondering if others see you as damaged. Shame plays a big role in having you think that friends and family will never look at you the same and that you will be labelled as the women that was sexually assaulted. Shame makes you feel broken.
The work to heal is not an easy road and you can’t prevent the feelings of shame, but you can work on creating a mindset that will help you process the feelings and regain that power you once had. The internal work starts with the mind healing from the trauma and accepting that this happened to you. Gaining the strength to self-love again and doing the things you once enjoyed in life without fear and shame will slowly become your tools to motivate you to work on creating a new mindset. How that looks for a person is based on the individual and how they want their healing journey to be.
Gaining the courage to change, gaining the power to heal.
Written by: Jody