Surviving Abuse and Ways to Help Heal

Posted by mabspeaks on July 15, 2013

Motivation & Inspiration / Tips by Mario Arnauz Bonds

As a child, I was abandoned, abused, molested, homeless at most times, and I went totally blind. Why then am I still a vibrant person with a real smile? Why do I enjoy life? How have I been able to function, when everything about my past says I should be bitter, miserable and perhaps, addicted to drugs and alcohol.

Indeed, the journey was tough for me, as it doubtless is for victims of any abuse. However, I learned and did healthy things that slowly lessened the sting of my past, and eventually made me a person with a real smile again. Each person’s road to recovery and healing is different, but there is one thing that I’m sure of, going from ictim to survivor is 100% possible. Here’s a few things a victim can do to take care of themselves during their healing process:

Physical Self-care

It’s the rule to a long life. Eating healthy foods, exercising at least three times a week, and getting a good night’s sleep are essential to recovery. Your body needs proper sustainance to endure, to keep your mind healthy and help with chemical balances. A starving body can't handle emotions, thinking clearly or even simple physical motivation.

This was easier said than done, but once I started swimming, running and lifting weights, I felt better about myself. I found a new sense of empowerment. Effects may seem temporary at times, but perseverance and the will to survive is key and will help you grow and stick to your new life style of exercising. Exercise helped me combat feelings of depression and worthlessness. It became an invaluable source of stress reduction.

Once a person who couldn’t sleep at all at night, finding a nice place to meditate, and increasing my exercise changed this issue. Although everyone has different needs, expert guideline says most people need between 7-10 hours of sleep per night. You must strive to fall somewhere in this bracket.

A major “must” for physical self-care is seeking medical attention. It is essential to obtain medical care as soon as possible if you have been abused. Some survivors put off getting medical care until problems that might have been relatively easy to take care of have become more complicated.

Emotional Self-care

This too varies from person-to-person. For me, it meant being strong, swallowing my pride and starting counseling to talk about what happened to me, and to find myself again. A good counselor will aid you in having a good conversation with yourself. Whether seeing a psychologist, a clinical social worker, or therapist, there is immense value in counseling. Local abuse/rape crisis centers often provide counseling or can connect you with a provider.

I kept a journal, which was extremely valuable in helping me get my feelings out privately. Eventually, my journal became a book I released called: “Without Sight but Full of Vision,” which is a childhood memoir of things I had to overcome. Writing the book gave me the greatest therapeutic release I couldn’t have gotten anywhere else. I knew I would be helping others break free from their own emotional prisons created by horrors in their pasts.

Meditation or relaxation exercises help many survivors with their emotional self-care. Listening to recordings of the rain, water streams, forests, birds and the ocean helped me tremendoussly. SOmetimes, I do this while lying down, or sometimes, while sitting or standing with my feet flat on the floor and my back straight. Keeping my shoulders from rising, I would do deep breathing exercises by inhaling, holding my breath for a few seconds, then exhaling through my mouth. This has a stress reducing effect, and has a valuable calming effect.

The people around you will have a huge effect on your emotional health. You must surround yourself with people who uplift you, make you feel good about yourself, and who will reenforce the methods you are using to help yourself heal. Be sure to hang around fun, emotionally stable people who will offer you an ear, a shoulder to cry on, or just someone to do fun things with. This is essential, as the wrong circle of people can ruin your progress in anything. Make spending time with emotionally healthy friends and family a priority. If you can’t find people who can support your experience as a survivor, consider joining a support group.

Keep an eye out for people who only call when they need something, only talk about themselves, or don’t seem sensitive to your situation. If someone leaves you feeling emotionally drained after you’ve spent time with them, reconsider being around them. You don’t necessarily have to cut them out of your life (especially with family, that may not even be an option!) but choose the time you will spend with them carefully. Know that it is OK to cut people off (family or otherwise) if dealing with them is a detriment to your own emotional or physical health.

Be your own receptionist. If you don’t feel like talking on the phone, call people back at a time that’s more convenient for you, or don’t answer the phone at all. You have a choice.

Taking care of yourself “MUST” be your principle priority. Love yourself enough to take care of yourself, and everything else and whoever else should be secondary. You are your most valuable asset, so take care of you, always, not by accident.

IN CONJUNCTION WITH www.rainn.org

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