Thank you so much for sharing this experience with us. I imagine coming to that realization was extremely challenging for you and may have left you with many questions and fears. To start, I want to acknowledge your own vicitimzation that you experienced. The abuse you experienced matters and is important, despite the harm this person may have manipulated you to do in the aftermath.
The first thing you can do is acknowledge the trauma you experienced and work towards your own healing. This may involve seeking support from experienced mental health professionals who can provide trauma-informed therapy tailored to your specific needs. It may also involve engaging in self-care practices, cultivating a supportive social network, and participating in trauma-informed support groups to foster a sense of safety, self-reflection, and community. If you are not ready for more formalized support, holistic approaches such as mindfulness, creative expression, and physical activities can also contribute to the healing process by promoting emotional regulation and self-discovery. You want to be sure you are in a good place mentally and physically before you address the harm you may have unintentionally caused others.
If you are considering apologizing and trying to make amends to the people you have harmed, it is crucial to approach the situation with genuine remorse, accountability, and respect for the other person's boundaries. Prior to initiating contact, reflect on your actions and their impact, and be prepared to take full responsibility for the harm caused. While it is important to give yourself some grace given the circumstances of the abuse you experienced, communicate your apology sincerely, without making excuses or expecting forgiveness, and be receptive to the other person's response, whether they choose to accept your apology or not. Additionally, demonstrating tangible efforts to change harmful behavior and seeking guidance from a qualified professional can further facilitate the process of making amends and promoting healing for all parties involved.
You do not need to go through this alone. You may want to consider seeking guidance from a qualified mental health professional to address the underlying impacts of this realization, understand the consequences of your actions, and develop a comprehensive plan to ensure the safety and support of those affected. They can help you practice having these difficult conversations and support you in the aftermath.
In addition, engaging in restorative justice practices with a trained facilitator may also be a way to have a more structured conversation about the harm caused and how to make amends, if parties agree to do so. Restorative justice for sexual harm often entails facilitated dialogues between the survivors and the person who caused harm, along with other affected parties, aiming to foster understanding, accountability, and healing. This process typically includes acknowledging the harm, discussing its impact, and collaboratively devising a plan for restitution, often under the guidance of trained facilitators or mediators.
No matter what you decide, we sincerely appreciate you sharing this experience with us. We hope this answer gave you some direction to move forward with, recognizing this situation is extremely delicate and complicated.
You are not alone.