Many survivors of sexual violence describe recovery as an ongoing process that takes time. You might notice some days feel really good, while other days are more difficult to get through.
There are so many different ways our bodies & minds respond to trauma. While we are all unique in our experiences, & in the ways we cope & recover, there are some patterns & commonalities that many survivors share.
Survivors of trauma tend to experience symptoms that fall into four broad categories: intrusion, avoidance, changes in mood/cognition, & reactivity. Intrusive symptoms include flashbacks, as well as distressing memories and upsetting nightmares.
Numbness is usually a mood-related symptom. It manifests as feeling emotionally distant, disconnected from others, or even disconnected from yourself. For some, numbness is an avoidance symptom. It can be your brain’s attempt to protect you from intense feelings or memories.
It’s incredibly common for survivors of trauma or violence to continue to experience traumatic stress symptoms weeks, months, or even years later. Having a flashback when you thought you were fully healed does not mean you are not making progress.
Recovery isn’t defined by the absence of all symptoms or memories of your trauma. It can be measured by the strength & resiliency you exhibit just by showing up each day & trying your best.
Recovery can be the length of time that grows between your flashbacks, or it could be learning & trying a new coping mechanism. You get to decide how you want to measure your recovery, and what is important to you.
Your path might look different or move at a faster/slower pace compared to someone else. Being healed is not a destination, but a lifelong journey taken one step at a time with support & understanding.
If your flashbacks or feelings of numbness persist, or if you notice that they are interfering with your life in a way that affects your daily functioning or relationships--it might be time to involve others in your healing.
Whether that’s a partner, friend, family member, trusted adult, or mental health professional--it’s always okay to ask for help. You don’t have to go through recovery alone.