How do you bring back play after chronic child sexual abuse? Play is, probably, one of the hardest things for me to do – to let lose and have fun. Anyone who has experienced trauma may be able to relate to this. If you’ve been traumatized, you will go through various stages, as I will briefly explain, but with continued awareness to your feelings and encouraged effort, you can bring back play after sexual abuse and trauma.
3 Stages of Trauma Recovery
1.) The victim stage refers to the period of time when a person is experiencing post-traumatic symptoms such as depression, shock or anxiety. There may also be symptoms of PTSD such as flashbacks and nightmares.
For me, this stage lasted for many years before I decided to seek help. The nightmares stopped only in 2000 and the flashbacks have subsided. I’ve learned how to deal with my triggers. I still have anxiety, where I shake uncontrollably, still no memories attached. I heard art therapy is a great way to understand these physiological responses, and dance therapy is a great way to release them; although I haven’t tried these two ideas. Nature is my way.
2.) The survivor stage is characterized by a sense of increased control over one’s environment and one’s inner self, often achieved by committing to therapy or some other healing endeavor. The trauma is addressed and processed, and no longer holds so much power over the individual’s well-being.
3.) The thriver stage represents a moving beyond, wherein the individual’s focus is on personal goals other than trauma work. Though PTSD symptoms may linger, the individual is now able to use coping skills to manage them. Overall, a sense of forward momentum and greater inner peace prevails.
I bloody well finally reached this stage. I guess this is why I get bitter at times. I’m not perfect, and I still get mad! Trauma survivors have been robbed of joy, laughter, play and confidence. Bringing back play after sexual abuse and trauma is not easy. As children, we were dressed with shame, guilt, self-loathing and self-disgust. We need to begin shedding this first to open up to play. The weight of these feelings took me a long to release, most likely because I had such a difficult time surrounding myself with people that love, support and understand me, but it is possible.
Why Do I Write About Sexual Abuse?
I want to give sexual abuse and trauma survivors a sense of hope and dignity, as well as some understanding to why they are the way they are. I’ve done extensive therapy in this area, and it has greatly helped me, but I’ve also come to realize that the memories of these experiences will always remain. At some point, you have to make a point to just move on. The reason I started the healing journey and survived it was because of my children; the desire to do better for them. Nothing else was more important than my boys. Today, I ask you, what is your reason to heal your dark past. Dig deep. Your ‘why’ needs to be strong.
Bring In Play
Even after sexual abuse and trauma, I am able to bring in play on occasion. It is always something I need to work on, however. I run and slide on the hardwood floors in the hallway with my woolly socks. I get giddy and laugh uncontrollably. I love to make fun out of life and the crazy habits we do. I love to laugh at my self and the nutty stuff that I say. It is fun to run through the sprinkler with the pups. I’m still learning that it’s fun to play.
Just a note: I am not sure where I picked up the 3 stages of trauma recovery in 2010. I apologize for not giving the site recognition. I can’t seem to find anything on the net related to the 3 stages in 2017. Please don’t shoot the messenger. 🙂