Elizabeth Smart was an innocent 14 year old girl who was kidnapped, raped, threatened, and abused for a period of 9 months before being returned home to her loving family.  Recently, we all watched in admiration as Elizabeth, now a beautiful and confident young woman, testified about her traumatic ordeal at the trial of her abuser.  Do you wonder how she was able to overcome such a horrible experience?   In a T.V. interview, her parents talked about how this experience did not “define” who Elizabeth is.  This is one of the key factors for people who are victims of traumatic experiences of abuse…realizing that sexual abuse is a part of their life and it does not define who they are as a person!

If you have been traumatized by sexual abuse, there are signs that may indicate the abusive experience is defining who you are!

7 Signs Abuse is Defining You!

  1. You have never told anyone about the abuse and fear what would happen if someone knew.
  2. You are experiencing feelings of shame and guilt or feeling “dirty”.
  3. You have difficulty maintaining a romantic relationship.
  4. You have told someone but can’t talk about the abuse without being overwhelmed with emotion or you find yourself telling everyone about the abuse.
  5. You are engaging in self-harming behaviors such as excessive drinking of alcohol, overeating, cutting yourself, being promiscuous, avoiding social activities, and experiencing feelings of self hate.
  6. You find yourself thinking about the abuse often.
  7. You had counseling in the past but still feel like you can’t seem to “get over it”.

Just as Elizabeth Smart did, you can live the life you desire after experiencing sexual abuse.  It is important that you seek counseling if you believe sexual abuse is defining who you are.

One of the most effective therapeutic techniques for treating traumatic experiences like sexual abuse is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).  A survivor of sexual abuse and trauma has to process their emotions and thoughts about the experience in order for healing to occur.  EMDR has been officially approved by the American Psychological Association as an effective treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

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