Recovering from abuse can be a long and arduous journey, but opening up about it in therapy can help you make great strides.
Instead of feeling trapped and controlled by the abuse that existed in your past, you can start to rebuild trust, form better & more fulfilling relationships, and find areas for you to focus on growing in your life.
But talking about abuse isn’t easy–even to a therapist. Lots of times, victims of abuse feel shame or guilt about the abuse they have endured, even sometimes blaming themselves. Re-opening those wounds is hard (it can even feel impossible) and it can make you feel incredibly vulnerable!
It can also get complicated with victims of childhood abuse. You might have blocked out those memories. You may have been too young to remember the abuse clearly. The lapse in memory can make victims feel like they are making it up, or like they are just remembering something wrong. After all if it was so bad, wouldn’t it be clear in your mind? And so many people who have lived through abuse find themselves keeping it hidden for as long as possible, even in therapy.
But trauma and abuse don’t always leave a clear footprint.
We can’t always reach back in our minds and remember the exact events that traumatized us. What’s left for us to dissect are our feelings. But being unable to remember abuse doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.
Whether it’s shame or guilt or memory keeping you from talking about your abuse in therapy, the result is the same: you’re preventing yourself from the experience of a full recovery. Any work done in therapy is valuable for your health and wellness overall, but addressing and recovering from abuse will help you grow far more than ignoring it will.
If you’re not sure how to talk to your therapist about abuse you’ve faced, here are a few key things to try:
- Write it down: When you’re in therapy, you will be in a vulnerable emotional place. You’ll be searching within yourself and finding out who you are and what you need and that can make you feel overwhelmed. In the moment, you might not be able to remember what it is you wanted to talk about. If you keep a journal (or a note on your phone) throughout the days you aren’t in therapy, you can have a place to jot things down as you think of them. Then bring it in and use it as guide when you’re struggling to communicate in therapy!
- Ask for help: If you know you have something traumatic to work through, but aren’t sure really how to do it, communicate that to your therapist. Abuse shapes us in ways we may not even realize so you might not be sure where to even begin when bringing it up to your therapist. Take a minute and tell them you have a history of abuse to work through, but that you aren’t sure how to begin. Your therapist’s job is to help guide you through it.
- Remember they won’t share your secrets with anyone: Opening up to your therapist won’t change how anyone in your life sees you. Your secrets are still your own–your therapist is just there to help you work through them. There aren’t social repercussions, no one is judging you, and you don’t have to worry about the information getting to anyone you don’t want it to reach.
When talking about abuse & trauma in therapy, it’s important to have a therapist that you trust. You can find more tips here on how to find the right therapist for you, and start your journey to recovery.
Are you looking for a therapist to help you recover from your history of abuse? Look no further. Grief Recovery Center is here. You can reach us at (832) 413-2410 or by filling out the form on our website.