My number one piece of advice to those who recently discovered their secret, or is wavering on the fence between honesty and concealment is: find someone to support you. Anyone. Whether it’s a friend, a mentor, a relative. Find someone who will have your back and never doubt you. It makes the process that much easier. Oftentimes, you’ll be shocked to discover how many people have found themselves in a similar situation with you. Sometimes even the exact situation.
It can be scary. It can make you hate the world. I know it made me hate the world for a while. Hearing about all these people, people who were close to me, who have been hurt in the same ways as I have been. At a time in your life when you need hope, promise, more than anything, even more than food it seems, this can really drag you down. BUT, then you begin to expand your mind, to really look at the people you know who’ve been affected the same way as you.
What you find are people in all different stages of the healing process. Some are exactly where you are. Some are further behind. But some are leaps and bounds ahead. And those are the ones I look to for hope. Those are the people who inspire me. People with healthy, happy, long-term relationships, successful careers, beautiful families. People who are interesting. Accomplished artists, college graduates, etc. People involved in organizations to help people just like you.
I know it can be hard. But talk to these people. Ask them questions. Share what happened with you, and ask them to share their stories. There’s no need for specifics. And sometimes specifics are discouraged, as they can trigger flashbacks. But the general knowledge is good to have. Ask questions such as: how did you cope with what happened? How does it affect you? Do you know any good therapists/support groups I could become involved with? Is there anyone else I can talk to about it? How did you manage to open up to people again? To enter into a successful relationship? And what about that other person was a good sign? What signs should you avoid? How do you keep from falling into a situation like that again? And even, how do I talk to (my family, etc.) about what happened?
Support is necessary. Find it wherever you can. But the best way, in my opinion/experience, to starting the healing process, is to find someone who supports you. Someone who loves you unconditionally. Who will support your decision to seek counseling, etc.
What I have found is, if you have been abused, you’ve dealt with enough unsupportive and tough individuals. It is time to find someone open and soft, with good listening skills, who can be your rock for a while.
That is what I did. I am very blessed to have wonderful friends and family members in my life. That is not to say you depend on them for everything. It was still important for me to be my own person and take care of myself in many ways. But the emotional support can be invaluable, and can really help during the initial months of your healing process.