I thought, what was wrong with me? I am no longer easily triggered. I could see his social media as if he was a mere stranger. I am also lucky that I have a strong support system, including my brother. So why did I cry and feel the exact feeling I had years ago, when I was sexually abused by my ex-boyfriend?
Then, I joined a seminar by Helpnona and finally understood that everything I was feeling is completely normal. Even after years have passed, we might still remember the day (or days) it happened. The trauma makes it impossible to forget.
Still, it’s good to know what you need to cope with the trauma. So I’ve discovered that these are what I need the most:
- Emotional Support
Support means listening to and believing what the survivor says about their experience, but never force them to tell you the whole story if they are not ready. Just assure them that you will be there if they need someone to talk to.
- To Be Understood
If you want to support a survivor, understand that the healing process may take months, even years. And even after years have passed, if there is something that may trigger them to remember, the trauma may still affect them deeply.
Also, never expect them to be their former self, especially if their former self was a happy-go-lucky type. Trauma can be emotionally draining; for me, I know it will take years to go back to my real self – whatever that means.
- To not be blamed
I was so angry with myself that nothing made sense. Why didn’t I kick him when he abused me? Why didn’t I say “no” harder? Why didn’t I storm off his boarding room? Why didn’t I wear more conventional clothes?
- Some space to be alone and to recover in my own way
These are my needs, everyone might be different in the way they cope with the aftermath and the trauma of a sexual assault.
Even now, I still need time to grasp everything slowly. I need time to slowly trust someone, especially from the opposite gender, as my trust has been shattered by a man in the past. I still have occasional fear that any prospective relationship may take a wrong turn, although this, too, has gradually diminished.
I am much happier than, let’s say, three months ago. Still, it’s a working progress.
L. Ayuningtyas is a former short story writer who has stopped being one, and is now trying to make sense of whatever has happened and is happening in her life. Now she is back to writing her first novella about two people growing up and one of them is a survivor of sexual assault. Yes, this is her way to recover.