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You really can feel better. You deserve to feel better. You have a right to feel better.

Healing from sexual abuse can be a painful and scary process. You may want to give up. But consider the following:  You are and have always been a valuable human being. Although as a child you weren’t treated with the respect and kindness you deserved, you now have a chance to give yourself the care you should have gotten when you were young and vulnerable.

Commit to healing because you are worth it. Take care of yourself now and commit to healing because you deserve to feel better. Here are some suggestions to help you on your healing journey.


Checkmark Create a safe place--physically and mentally.

Learn coping skills. See the coping strategies listed with specific disorders and problem areas on other pages in this site, as well as the strategies found in the toolbox of the Helping Resources section.


Write a list for emergencies.Plan emergency strategies for when you feel unsafe. Keep lists of emergency phone numbers throughout the house. If you feel self-destructive, call a friend, leave whatever situation is provoking those feelings, write or draw--try to distract yourself. Give yourself permission to be aware of feelings you may be trying to avoid. Tell friends what to expect.


Be aware of situations in which you feel unsafe. What might help you feel safe? What do you need to feel safe? Recognize your right to a sense of internal security.


Identify your needs now. What needs were ignored in childhood? Are you still unconsciously trying to meet those needs now? Try to give your "inner child" the love, support, and protection she/he deserves [and you deserved as a child].


CrayonsGet in touch with child parts. Try coloring. Do something you enjoyed or always wanted to do as a child. Go to the playground and ride the swings. Remember: "It's never too late to have a happy childhood."

Checkmark Ask yourself how old you feel in various situations--are you responding as an adult or as a less powerful child?

Be aware that you may sabotage relationships. Is this what you want to do? Try to connect with the feelings that drive you to avoid getting close [or compel you to get inappropriately close]. Find constructive responses to unmet needs or fears.

Checkmark Learn and practice assertiveness skills. Survivors typically need practice maintaining boundaries that were violated when they were young.
Checkmark Get professional help. Join a support group for survivors.
Write me

If you're a sexual abuse survivor with strategies that have helped you cope with difficult feelings and thoughts as you heal, please share them with me. While I may not be able to list them all, I'll try to update this page frequently with the best coping strategies that readers submit. 


Comments, questions, or suggestions?  Please, email me.

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Jonathan P. Levine, CSW
2300 West Ridge Rd.
Rochester, NY  14626
(585) 225-0330

Updated on 06/11/2002
© 2002,
Jonathan P. Levine, CSW