Sometimes we can feel a certain way for so long that it starts to feel normal, comfortable even. It becomes so familiar that we stuff down that nagging thought that we should do something about our struggles. The process of healing can seem scarier than what we’re experiencing now.

I met a woman at a retreat who began to share with me that her abuse at 10 years old was surfacing again now that she was 40. Despite her efforts to will it away year after year by stuffing away the memories and emotions, instead it had grown to a frenzy of fear, shame and pain. Even worse, it was impacting the intimacy she longed to enjoy with her husband. She agreed that she needed to ‘deal’ with it, but in order to do that, she would need to bring the past into the open and that was just too scary.

I assured her of two things…the same two things I suggest to you. First: there is hope for healing. She can be free of the impact of the abuse. Not the memories, but the haunting control the memories were having on her life. Second, it was not going away on its own. Until she took the steps necessary to allow for healing, every morning for the rest of her life she’d wake up longing for peace from its torment.

So how do you know if your sexual past is still hurting you today? This list describes some of the ways that your abuse could still be impacting your day to day life:

  • You’re having trouble functioning at home or work
  • You’re suffering from severe fear, anxiety or depression
  • You’re unable to form close, satisfying relationships
  • You’re experiencing terrifying memories, nightmares, or flashbacks
  • You’re avoiding more and more things that remind you of the abuse or trauma
  • You’re feeling emotionally numb and disconnected from others
  • You’re using alcohol or drugs to feel better, or to be able to be intimate with your spouse
  • You’re not enjoying intimacy with your spouse, you feel like there should be more …

You don’t have to face this alone: Email a mentor.
For further reading in this series:

Childhood Sexual Abuse: How the past affects the present
How do I know if I’ve been sexually abused?
Why do I feel this way?
Why do I struggle with sexual intimacy?
How can I heal from my sexual past?

Recommended Reading:

On The Threshold of Hope by: Diane Langberg
The Wounded Heart: Hope For Adult Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse by: Dan Allender
Barbara’s Books – Barbara covers many issues in her books including Sexual Abuse and much more.

Written by Barbara Wilson Psy.D.

Barbara Wilson Psy.D.

Dr. Barbara Wilson is an author, Doctor of Clinical Psychology and the founder of Freedom Bound Communications, an organization that brings healing and hope to those with a sexual past. She speaks internationally to youth and adults with her message of sexual bonding and healing. Released from a past of her own, Barbara combines neuroscience and Scripture, with her own story of healing to explain what sexual bonding is and how to move freely into your future in her books, The Invisible Bond: How to Break Free From Your Sexual Past and Kiss Me Again; Restoring Lost Intimacy In Marriage. Dr. Wilson’s study guide, Free, Finding Freedom and Healing from your Past, available in women’s, men’s and young women versions, is being used locally and nationally to walk men and women through an empirically-based, trauma-focused approach for healing from past abuse, sexual trauma and destructive relationships. You can view or purchase any of her books here. Barbara and her husband have been married over 30 years.