The Decision to Heal:  
  • Deep healing happens only when you choose it and are able and willing to commit to the healing process.
 
The Emergency Stage:
  • Beginning to deal with memories and suppressed feelings can throw your life into utter turmoil.  Remember, this in only a stage.  It won’t last forever. 
 
Remembering:
  • Some survivors suppress all memories of what happened to them.  Those who do not forget the actual incidents often forget how it felt at the time.  Remembering is the process of getting back the memory and the feeling.
 
Believing it Happened:
  • Survivors often doubt their own perceptions.  Coming to believe that the assault actually happened, and that it really hurt you, is a vital part of the healing process.
 
Breaking Silence:
  • Telling another human being about what happened to you is a powerful healing force that can dispel the shame of being a victim.
Understanding That it Wasn’t Your Fault:
  • Survivors often believe that what happened was their fault.  We must place the blame where it belongs-directly on the shoulders of the abuser.
 
Making Contact with the Child Within:
  • Many survivors have lost touch with their own vulnerability.  Getting in touch with the child within can help you feel compassion for yourself, more anger at your abuser and greater intimacy with others.
 
Trusting Yourself:
  • The best guide for healing is you own inner voice.  Learning to trust your own perceptions, feelings and intuitions forms a new basis for action in the world.
Grieving and Mourning:
  • Most survivors have not felt the totality of their losses.  Grieving is a way to honor you pain, let go and move into the present. 
Anger:
  • Anger is a powerful and liberating force.  Whether you need to get in touch with it, or have always had plenty to spare, directing your rage squarely on the abuser is pivotal to healing.
 
Disclosures and Confrontations:
  • Directly confronting your abuser and/or your family is not for every survivor.  But, it can be a dramatic and cleansing tool.

 

Forgiveness? 
  • Forgiveness is NOT an essential part of the healing process.  The only essential forgiveness is for yourself.
 
Spirituality: 
  • Having a sense of power greater than yourself can be a real asset in the healing process.  You may find it through traditional religion, meditation, nature or a support group.

 

Resolution and Moving On:
  • As you move through these stages, you will reach a point of integration.  Your feelings and perspectives will stabilize.  You will come to terms with your abuser.  While you won’t erase history, you will make deep and lasting changes in your life.  Having gained awareness, compassion and power through healing you will have the opportunity to work toward a better world.

Stages of Healing

Information taken from: Bass, Ellen and Laura Davis. The Courage To Heal. Santa Cruz: Harper and Row, 1988. Print. 

© 2013 Sexual Assault Recovery Program, A Program of Family Services of Southern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois, Inc.